Courtesy of Times Record News, April 7 2015
Cobra Kai Flight Academy in Wichita Falls is looking to soar to new heights with the use of a flight simulator that benefits the academy and its students.
The venture was made possible through a $140,000 forgivable loan approved by the Wichita Falls City Council Tuesday morning as part of a Wichita Falls Economic Development Corp. job and business retention incentive package. The academy is located at Kickapoo Airport.
Martin Bohn, Cobra Kai owner, former member of the German air force and instructor pilot at Sheppard Air Force Base, said people from around the world come to the flight academy for training including Alaska and Hawaii in the United States and Japan, Korea and Europe. He said in the more than two years of being in operation, they have issued almost 200 pilot’s licenses.
“The opportunity now which is given with the flight simulator is more than just the basic flight training for private instrument or commercial,” he said. “It actually allows us to develop our software, which we were trying to do early in the beginning.
“Software is expensive to get programmed, so you need the cash flow.”
By agreeing to the incentive package, Cobra Kai must create five new jobs and retain 13 existing jobs over a five-year period. Bohn is joined by other former instructor pilots from the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard.
Bohn said the Redbird Flight Simulator will arrive in about six to eight weeks. He said where some simulators only allow one type of airframe for training, he will be able to simulate flights in five different aircraft.
The cost for flight training can range from $10,000-$13,000, but the flight simulator will give students more time to practice with the simulator at a lower cost than actually taking to the skies for training. Bohn said they are allowed to substitute 50 percent of the training with the technology, but he doesn’t prefer spending half the training time in a simulator.
People seeking a private pilot’s license has declined over the years because it’s an expensive hobby, but there has been an increase in people seeking a commercial license as demand in the industry has increased, he said.
Bohn said they have been able to purchase four more planes and another hangar because of the success of Cobra Kai since it opened.
WFEDC President Dick Bundy said the 4A Board made the aerospace industry an area of focus during the next year, and the commitment to Cobra Kai is an example of that.
“This is exactly the project we like to see,” he said. “It encourages our existing businesses, expands existing businesses and adds primary jobs to our community. This is one that stays right in line with our aerospace direction we really want to see …”
Henry Florsheim, president and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said Michael Paris was project manager to develop the job-retention incentive plan.