Another flight school grounded; Langa Air out of business

After my cleansing flight last week, Joe and I chatted about the demise of flight schools at our local patch. He pointed out where Thunder Air used to be, and noted a new flight school was there. Langa Air’s aircraft were all lined up on the North West ramp, waiting for flight. They may fly again but it won’t be for Langa Air. An article in the local paper today detailed the flight schools sudden shut down on Tuesday. A notice on the company’s website blamed the economy and its inability to get a loan for operating funds.

To Students and Customers:

As you know, we are all in an economic crisis. Having been in the business of aviation for over 20 years, we have seen “hard times” when we had to lay off employees, cut wages, and reduce expenses. We have seen times with increased fuel costs, increasing insurance rates, and even an extended period following 9/11 when we were unable to train for nearly one month due to the closure of airspace. Despite those hard times, we always found a way to survive and pull through. But, we are in unparalleled times.

The owner of Langa Air, Inc. has gone to great lengths to survive this unprecedented crisis. He has sacrificed his income, financial health and retirement to infuse Langa Air, Inc. with cash to sustain operations. Some employees even agreed to a wage reduction recently to ensure all of those who do business with Langa Air, Inc. would continue to do so. Despite these efforts, the economy, together with the inability to secure operating loans, Langa Air, Inc. has no alternatives remaining.
It is with profound sadness that we are closing the doors to Langa Air, Inc. and terminating business effective September 1, 2009. Unfortunately, there will be no remaining employees, including flight instructors, mechanics, and flight line personnel, to provide support for use of training aircraft. As a result, you will not be able to presently train with Langa Air.

Langa will make available the training records to any and all students within 30 days unless the Bankruptcy court directs otherwise. Please check the web site periodically for updates.

Please keep in your thoughts and prayers the good employees of Langa Air, Inc. and their families.

A sad notice, not just for Langa Air but their students and fixed wing training in general. Out of curiosity I googled flight schools at KSUS (Spirit of St. Louis Airport). I then clicked on each schools link; none of them were active. Next, I went to the official KSUS webpage and looked up flight schools. Langa was the only fixed wing school, and now there are none.

I’ve written how the profession has been so diluted, so beaten down, that it simply is not worth the investment. Sully himself detailed that belief to the US Congress.

For me it is especially sad, aviation has been my profession, hobby and passion. I have tried to pass this passion along; as an Advanced Strike flight instructor in the Navy, a test pilot instructor and since retiring as a CFI/II (Certified Flight Instructor). My books have been dedicated to aviation and the Aviators; I’m third generation in the aviation world.

I am an optimist by nature and there was a silver lining to the dark cloud yesterday. My son David called excited about his first solo out of the landing pattern. So the fourth generation has picked up the pack and the aviation dream lives on. He is a student in Central Missouri State’s Professional Pilot Program and a member of the Missouri Air National Guard.

This is going to be the new “norm”; expensive University Programs, as the Private Part 141 schools wither and die due to a lack of students. I fear that it will also become a profession of the rich kids. A middle class family simply cannot afford it anymore, and the return on investment is not there to justify hundreds of thousands in loans. A pilot shortage is coming.

6 comments on “Another flight school grounded; Langa Air out of business
  1. Kevin Hand says:

    A pilot shortage is coming…Really?? You know, a very short time ago, the pundits were espousing a nationwide mechanic shortage and how Aviation in general will grind to a halt within the next year or so. That was about four years ago. Before making such a cavalier announcement such as this, maybe we should check the facts. Small Business Aviation, as a whole, is dying on the vine, my friend. Aircraft are being sold…or abandoned, Pilots are being laid off at an alarming rate, as are support personnel (mechanics,Line service,etc). Check the NBAA website, You can EASILY find a pilot to fly just about anything RIGHT NOW as well as a mechanic to maintain anything you may need to fly. A pilot shortage is no where near the Midwest…

  2. Chip says:

    Did you know that the USA is only a small part of the world of aviation. Yes there is a shortage coming, that is why commuter airlines were hiring 190 hour pilots up until last year. Flight schools are failing because of no input. Military is no longer pumping out pilots, besides they have to take a huge pay cut to go to the lines.

    NBAA is a very minor segment compared to the worlds need for pilots. That is why IATA pushed through age 65, that is why IATA is pushing through airline licesnses that require less flight time than a private (MPL).

    RIGHT NOW, no doubt you can find a pilot, we are in a recession. what about 1,2,5 or 10 years from now? At my airline for example, even with age 65, within 10-12 years 90% of the pilots will be gone. 90%! Who will replace them. Go up the FAA site and look and the active commercial pilot licences issued in the last few years as compared to 10, 20 years ago.

    A pilot shortage is coming. The fact you choose not to look past the current want adds dosn’t make it go away. No pilots in now, no qualified pilots later.

  3. rhall says:

    I agree chip even though I’m one of the langa students. I still think the future will hold jobs even when the current looks bleak. Mine bleaker than most. Do you think Kevin that the recession will last our whole lifetime? do you think Kevin that when they cut all these means of becoming a pilot, and the pilot well drys up they will stop needing pilots? When 9/11 happend the well got low and so did the minimums.

  4. Chip says:

    I can tell you from experience that a career in aviation will have set backs. Many set backs. I’m sorry things went bad at Langa, I hope you didn’t get burned too much financially.

    Don’t give up on your dreams. I kept slugging away and I’m glad I did. That dosn’t mean you might not have to change course. I have and value each experience. Fly safe and keep it fun. chip

  5. King says:

    I attended a flight school with 400 students in Fl and it shut down without any notice as well I feel your pain. Good luck to all of you

  6. Chip says:

    The sad new reality is do NOT give a flight school more money than you can afford to lose. COD, is the only safe way. I would never give a school more than a weeks worth of flight time now.

    The entire aviation industry is headed for the mother of all crashes. In 15 years there will virtually be no pilots left.