For nearly two decades, a Central Florida company has been quietly influencing the way the world extracts fossil fuels, transports ill or injured medical patients, produces agricultural products, builds and maintains critical infrastructure, and even protects national borders.
Based out of Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, U.S. Aviation Training Solutions Inc. has trained thousands of professional and military helicopter pilots from more than 120 nations and is globally recognized as a premier provider of quality based aviation training solutions. With an alumni base that dates back more than 30 years and spans the globe, you'll find USATS graduates operating safely in nearly every sector of the helicopter aviation industry.
Their story began in 1987 when Patrick Corr founded Helicopter Adventures Inc. in Concord, California. In 2007, following an expansion and relocation to Titusville, HAI would become a wholly owned subsidiary of Bristow Group, Inc. and, after re-branding to 'Bristow Academy', spend the next 10 years leaving an indelible mark on the quality and standards of the helicopter pilot training industry.
”It has been an interesting and rewarding journey” says current USATS Director, Todd Smith, who joined the original business in 1996 after serving in the U.S. Marine Corp. “The aviation training industry has gone through a remarkable transformation in the 20+ years that I have been a part of it, but the most interesting time to me was during the mid to late 2000s.”
Smith goes on to describe how a shortage of professionally trained, career-oriented helicopter pilots developed during this time, as many of the former Vietnam War era pilots were reaching retirement age and exiting the profession at an unprecedented rate. “The resulting impact was an overwhelming attrition rate at the air carrier level, that simply could not be overcome through existing commercially available training portals.” During this time organizations like The Bristow Group (one of the largest operators of commercial helicopters, globally) developed dedicated pilot training programs that were geared toward the career-oriented, professionally minded student helicopter pilot.
Today, the airline industry is facing a similar dilemma as the overwhelming shortage of quality trained entry level pilots threatens to cripple the industry. “The numbers are astounding.” says Smith. Under new ownership since November 2017, USATS has built upon its history, experience and knowledge in training professional helicopter pilots and is now turning some of its focus to training professional fixed-wing (airplane) pilots for the airline industry. “This is another opportunity for our team to make a difference,” says Smith “and nothing is more rewarding to me than to know that what we do every day could ultimately save a life, or even lots of lives.”
USATS’ dedicated team of professionals both on the ground and in the air bring their combined experience to create a learning environment second to none. It’s an environment and culture that’s designed for the career-minded aviator. The focus of USATS - and chosen training model - is the training, mentoring and career support of those with the desire to become professional aviators, not just a pilot. USATS is committed to providing the highest quality aviation training in the safest, most efficient manner possible.