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Bankruptcy Grounds Raleigh Heliport's Primary Tenant

Posted February 4, 2008

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— The major tenant of the new Raleigh Heliport filed for bankruptcy Monday and closed its operations, but the heliport's owner said the facility would remain open.

The heliport opened in August inside the Interstate 440 Beltline at Capital Boulevard and became a base for Silver State Helicopters, a pilot-training school headquartered in Las Vegas.

Silver State suspended all of its operations Sunday afternoon and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday to liquidate its assets.

In a letter sent to employees over the weekend, President and Chief Executive Jerry Airola blamed the nationwide credit crunch for the shutdown because enrollment declined sharply when students were unable to secure loans for tuition.

"The entire lending industry was crippled in October, and the impact hit all student lending sources particularly hard; we felt this full force," Airola wrote in the letter, which was obtained by KLAS-TV, WRAL's CBS affiliate in Las Vegas.

"Silver State Helicopters has done everything possible to weather the storm and will continue to work on a solution that will allow this company to continue to explore options," he wrote. "Because the monthly operating expenses, even at the recently streamlined levels, continue to exceed cash flow, the board has elected to suspend all operations."

Silver State had about 2,700 students nationally. It was unclear how many students had signed up for classes in Raleigh.

No one from Silver State was at the Raleigh Heliport Monday morning. Airola's letter said surveillance cameras had been installed at all company locations to protect its assets.

Heliport owner Scott Moore said Silver State remains liable for its lease, and the facility would remain open. It also stores helicopters and offers private flights.

The heliport has attracted a whirlwind of criticism from neighbors, who complained that Silver State's flight school wasn't part of the special-use permit city officials granted to allow the heliport to open. Neighbors also complained about early-morning and late-evening noise from the heliport.

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  • TheAdmiral Feb 5, 2008

    Hey - How much for the trailer and the pencils?

  • simracer68 Feb 4, 2008

    "Do some googling, this type of school is no less than a scam.

    After you complete their courses, the only way to get a license is by flying time. Well, you can't get flying time unless you have a license. So to "help" you out, they will let you stay on as an instructor, which doesn't pay well."

    Not entirely accurate. You can accrue flying time with an instructor. The catch is, you have to pay for their time, the use of their copter, and buy the fuel. And none of the in-school flight hours count? I find that difficult to believe too.

    How is this different than truck driving schools? All they do is ready you for a CDL test - you don't get your license when you "graduate" there either. And their "driving time" during the school counts.

  • KnightFlyer Feb 4, 2008

    I looked at this company when they first came to Raleigh and their commercials were all over the radio. They made some unrealistic claims. The jobs they insisted are in demand just aren't there. You graduate with about 200 hours of flying time. Most companies want 1,000-2,000 before they will even look at your resume. They appeared to make more money off of the financing than anything. (Tuition is $70,000)

  • maxpower Feb 4, 2008

    cghsmom= Franklin County probably has a fixed wing(airplane)school too along with their rotorwing(helicopter)school also. There are more fixed wing schools in our area than rotor.

  • maxpower Feb 4, 2008

    Roger that Chuck U Farley. We are thinking alike.

  • smitty Feb 4, 2008

    Do some googling, this type of school is no less than a scam.

    After you complete their courses, the only way to get a license is by flying time. Well, you can't get flying time unless you have a license. So to "help" you out, they will let you stay on as an instructor, which doesn't pay well.

  • SaltlifeLady Feb 4, 2008

    I knew the heliport was there but had no idea there was a training school on-site there. Maybe if they had advertised that more their student enrollment would have been higher.

    I thought the flight school in Franklin Co was for airplanes, not helicopters.

    Apparently, I am not too into the loop on these things! :-)

  • fredssmithisnotmysenator Feb 4, 2008

    I would recommend reviewing and approving your reporters comments before they appear on the site.

  • Pineview Style Feb 4, 2008

    I had no clue that they opened a heliport until the other day I happened to be out that way and saw it.

  • Chuck U Farley Feb 4, 2008

    I hate to see them go, but their plans didn't seem realistic to me. This area already has one helicopter school in Franklin County. I can't see there was enough demand for a second school, especially one that only caters to career-track pilots.

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