Revolution Aviation, a flight training school based at John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana, Calif., claims to be the first flight school in the United States to offer instruction on helicopters, fixed-wing platforms, and remotely piloted vehicles (RPVs), more commonly known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Mark Robinson, founder of Revolution Aviation, wanted to open a school where anyone could “pursue their passion for aviation.” The company has a motto of “eat, sleep, fly.”
Photo courtesy Revolution Aviation
The school, which opened in fall 2013, has a total of six aircraft: three Robinson R22s, one R44, a fixed-wing Liberty XL2 and one Hummingbird UAV, a quadcopter from Ascending Technologies.
Although Revolution Aviation specializes in helicopters and helicopter training, “when we started, we were the second flight school at John Wayne Airport providing helicopter training in 34 years,” said Robinson. “So we knew we’d get the overflow from that school, but we also wanted to do things a little differently, which is why we also wanted to offer drone and fixed-wing training.”
The drone, built by Ascending Technologies, is a quadcopter called the Hummingbird. UAV training allows students to practice an interest in aviation without actually piloting a large aircraft.
“The drone makes us a little different, unusual, since it’s an up and coming business,” he explained. The reason the company took on UAV training is because Robinson “wanted people to have the opportunity to learn something that doesn’t currently require medical, and that’s something that allows people to enjoy aviation but not have to fly if they’re scared of flying.”
The instruction, whether the student is training on a helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft or UAV, is a syllabus-based program that includes both classroom and flight sessions. The training begins in the classroom where students learn about the aircraft and its mechanics, and receive a lesson on airspace. Then, after completing a test, students begin the flight portion of the training.
Photo courtesy Revolution Aviation
“We really focus on what the individual’s purpose is. So if their purpose is to buy their own aircraft that they will fly to the desert, then we will focus specifically on hot temperatures, high density and safety,” said Robinson. “But if someone says they just want to rent an aircraft to take their friends around the coast, then we will focus on emergency procedures, weight and balance in regards to taking passengers and the rules and regulations of working in Los Angeles.”
So far, the 31 students enrolled in the Revolution Aviation program are pursuing a personal interest “for career transition, either obtaining their license for a hobby or to actually become a career helicopter pilot,” Robinson noted.
Revolution Aviation also rents out the R22s and R44 to anyone that’s interested. This way, people that have already obtained their pilot’s license but don’t want to purchase an aircraft can use one of the school’s helicopters after completing a flying evaluation.
As for next steps, Robinson said he wants to complete a Part 141 application that will allow the school to enroll international students. The application will also open the door for the company to apply for GI Bill accreditation from the U.S. government, opening up training for military personnel with a GI Bill.
See a video of one of Mark Robinson's training lessons here.
Related: Training News