New Flight School opens at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport

Nov 5, 2013
Maggie FitzRoy - Correspondent-
Jacksonville Business Journal

A husband and wife team of Federal Aviation Administration certified flight instructors just opened a full-service flight school at Jacksonville Executive at Craig Airport.

Dana Holladay and his wife Meredith, who recently moved from Washington D.C. to Jacksonville, offer lessons to individuals seeking a private pilot license, and to experienced pilots seeking advanced ratings, or FAA required training to maintain a private license.

Between them, the Holladays have more than 10,000 combined hours flying, and extensive experience as flight instructors in Washington D.C. Dana Holladay also instructed in the Chicago area before that.

Their business, Holladay Aviation, has an office and classroom at Craig Air Center at the airport on St. John’s Bluff Road North. That is also where they keep their training plane, a Piper Warrior four seat single engine aircraft.

Most of their students want to learn how to fly for personal reasons, either for recreation or for travel for their small business, Meredith Holladay said. For some, it might be “a bucket list item.” For others, flying is an efficient way to travel for business.

When traveling to smaller cities, flying a small personal plane is often more efficient that using the airlines, and a private pilot license is the baseline license for anybody who wants to fly an airplane, she said.
The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time for a private license. Part of the flying time must be solo, and students also must pass a written test. They must also pass a flying test with an FAA examiner.
There are other flight schools at Craig, but Meredith Holladay said their school is different from most because they run a “mom and pop” operation, with only themselves as instructors. Many flight schools hire young instructors who are using the job to acquire flight hours toward certification for an airline job, she said.

While a few of their students have gone on to airline jobs, most of their students just want to fly for personal pleasure or small business use. While the airline industry faces a shortage of pilots due to new laws regarding flight hours required, “our business doesn’t have anything to do with the airline industry,” she said. The number of people seeking private licenses has remained stable over the years, she said, although like any recreational pursuit, it does fluctuate with the economy.

The Holladays charge $185 an hour for the rental of their Piper Warrior for lessons, which covers fuel and insurance costs, as well as instructor fees. They plan to add a two-seater plane to their school soon, which would cost $145 an hour to rent.
It’s a matter of preference if you want to fly a two-seater or four-seater plane, Meredith Holladay said. Regardless, the school’s industry accepted syllabus for the private pilot license is the same.
The school also offers instruction for pilots who want to earn an instrument rating certification, allowing them to fly in lower visibility conditions. Dana also teaches pilots how to fly tail wheel planes, modern replicas of vintage planes.

The Holladays moved to Jacksonville for its affordable business opportunities, and because of the city’s proximity to the ocean and mild climate, Meredith Holladay said. She said they teach flying for the love of it.

In 2012, the couple flew a restored 1938 Piper J-3 Cub around the country, visiting 48 states in seven weeks. Their journey is chronicled in their book “Fly the Airplane: What Being Pilots Has Taught Us About Life, Love, Survival and Success.”

Holladay Aviation will offer a free ground school seminar about learning how to fly at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12.



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