AOPA distinguished flight school: Peterson Aero Club achieves firsts with recognition

Greg Cortum, Peterson Air Force Base Aero Club/Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center manager, undertakes a preflight walk around at the club hangar on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Oct. 31, 2017. The group was recognized as a 2017 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Training Experience Awards Distinguished Flight School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Greg Cortum, Peterson Air Force Base Aero Club/Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center manager, undertakes a preflight walk around at the club hangar on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Oct. 31, 2017. The group was recognized as a 2017 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Training Experience Awards Distinguished Flight School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Greg Cortum, Peterson Air Force Base Aero Club/Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center manager, undertakes a preflight walk around at the club hangar on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Oct. 31, 2017. The group was recognized as a 2017 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Training Experience Awards Distinguished Flight School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

Greg Cortum, Peterson Air Force Base Aero Club/Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center manager, undertakes a preflight walk around at the club hangar on Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Oct. 31, 2017. The group was recognized as a 2017 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Training Experience Awards Distinguished Flight School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Dave Smith)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Emerging from a pool of 1,048 evaluated flight schools, Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center, also known as the Peterson Aero Club, was one of the top 8.5 percent to be recognized as a 2017 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Training Experience Awards Distinguished Flight School.

“This is the first Air Force and first Department of Defense flying club to receive this award,” said Eric Treland, U.S. Air Force Aero Clubs program manager.

The club is only one of 16 clubs left in the Air Force said Greg Cortum, Rocky Mountain Flight Training Center manager. Recognized as the best in the Air Force in 2015, he said the AOPA honor is validation of a consistent job well done.

“It’s awesome,” said Cortum. “It’s kind of a feather in our cap letting us know we are doing the right thing, teaching members of the military like we are supposed to teach them. We have excellent instructors who are outstanding in what they do and how they do it.”

Distinguished flight schools were determined by results of AOPA’s 2017 Flight Training Experience Survey. The survey focused on four factors: educational quality, customer focus, community, and information sharing. The club’s high score on the survey resulted in it obtaining the ground breaking honor.

“You have reached a high standard of accomplishment and we commend you for your commitment to a positive training experience,” said Chris Moser, AOPA director of flight training initiative, in the award notification letter.

To be recognized as a distinguished school, nominees must score well on the survey.

“They have to have a minimum of five responses and half of them have to give the school the highest marks,” Moser said. “It’s kind of a high bar.”

There are 2,200 flight schools nationwide, said Moser, and of the nominated facilities only 84 were recognized putting them into the top four percent of all schools.

“It’s pretty prestigious when you think about it,” Moser said. “People who are there training are really happy with what they are doing and enjoy the experience.”

The school is customer driven, Cortum explained. The 25 instructors, most with military backgrounds, work hard to cater to the specific needs of the students.

“We fit in with their active schedules,” he said. “We are open 24/7/365 for flying and we have online reservations for instructors.”

The club has been teaching students to fly since 1951 Cortum said. During that time activity has waxed and waned, but now there can be 75 students at a time training for various certifications.