Launching a business always requires a wealth of planning and budgeting- and a flight school is no exception! Jamie Patterson-Simes had been flying since she was 17-years-old and has over 22 years of experience as a flight instructor, tour pilot and Bush pilot in western Alaska. That abundance of experience combined with her MBA made opening her own flight school the perfect option for her. Jamie approached the Alaska Small Business Development Center looking for a second set of eyes to go over her financial projection and walked away with much more than she expected! Anchorage Center Director Lynn Klassert helped Jamie create a dynamic plan, which included using her own plane, to open her school that involved a team of advisors that would assist her in every aspect of her business.
“Starting a flight school was a rather daunting process that was made a lot easier by meeting with professionals at the Alaska Small Business Development Center,” said Jamie. “The Center had low-cost seminars and workshops to guide me through the process as painlessly as possible. Lynn Klassert was especially helpful; he had a multitude of contacts who helped me with the different aspects of opening a business: bookkeeping, insurance, taxes, legal assistance, website design, even painters and contractors.”
A year into the business, Jamie continues to meet with Lynn from time to time as she comes across new challenges created by the growth her business has experienced. Jamie not only utilized the business plan to apply for a loan successfully, but to prove that her business could support a large overhead purchase early on in the game.
“Although I had lots of classroom experience at UAA when I received my MBA, my actual “hands-on” experience in business was very limited. I definitely needed some guidance during the first few months, and Lynn Klassert was always just a phone call away when I felt overwhelmed or just needed to bounce some ideas off a business professional and get a different viewpoint” said Jamie.
Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration awarded Jamie the coveted “Gold Seal Flight Instructor” status, whereby her successful pass rate is one of the highest in the industry. She also has been accredited by the National Association of Flight Instructors as a “Master Certificated Flight Instructor” which recognizes her leadership and involvement in the aviation community, and her ability to help aspiring aviators achieve their goals. Less than 1% of flight instructors in the nation hold both designations.