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Epic Flight Academy Celebrates 20 Years with Expansion of Operations

Epic DC-7 moved for Part 147 School
Epic Flight Academy had to move its landmark DC-7 recently to make way for a new Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technician School. The DC-7 will remain on view for the public.

July 1, 2019

New Smyrna Beach, Florida – When Danny Perna opened his flight school in 1999 he had one plane and one employee – himself. Twenty years later, Epic Flight Academy’s fleet surpasses two-dozen aircraft and flight simulators, and the staff hovers around 130. Now the central Florida flight school is expanding again.

“We train 200 to 300 professional pilots a year,” said Perna. “This is a direct result of the pilot shortage. We have to continually expand our fleet and staff to keep up. Our newest initiative is in response to another need – aviation technicians.”

Epic Flight Academy is breaking ground on a 20,000 square feet building that will accommodate 200 students for its new Part 147 Aviation Maintenance Technician School. The expectation to have it completed by spring 2020 if everything continues on schedule.

“There is a growing demand for technical training,” said Josh Rawlins, chief operating officer. “Vocational and STEM classes are in demand, and we will be accepting 12 students into the initial class with a new class beginning every three months.” Rawlins added that the school will add 20 new job positions to Epic’s roster.

Epic has become known for a local landmark, a decommissioned DC-7 they had to move to accommodate the new facility. The American Airlines relic was initially planned to house a restaurant, but the pilot shortage put pressure on the flight school to expand its training facilities instead, and the DC-7 instead has become a popular stop-off for aviation buffs.

“We did have to move the DC-7, but it’s still accessible to the public,” said Rawlins. “People love to stop by and take ‘selfies’ with it. The aviation tech school is necessary, though, so we are glad we could make it work.”

The flight school is known for hiring its graduates to work as flight instructors, and Perna anticipates the same will happen with the aviation technicians who graduate from the school.

“We love hiring our graduates, because we know they’ve received the best training,” he said. “As our fleet expands, so does our need for qualified technicians. We look forward to having a steady supply of graduates to take these new positions.”

The flight school is planning a fall event to celebrate its 20 years in business during its 4th Annual Aviation Scholarship Awards event. “We have a lot to celebrate,” added Perna, “and we are looking forward to the next 20 years.”

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