Master Flight Instructor and Alaska Flying Network owner Chip Versaw at the controls of their Cessna 172 trainer.
According to statistics Alaska has six times the number of pilots per capita than anywhere else in the country. One out of every fifty-eight Alaskan residents has a pilot’s license and probably the rest wish they did. It’s been said that this rugged state has two classes of people, “Those who fly and those who don’t!” Chip Versaw and the Alaska Flying Network can take credit for making a lot of those wannabe pilots’ dreams come true. For the last 25 years Alaska Flying Network and their team of flight instructors have been giving Alaskans wings, “We’ve been teaching private, instrument and commercial pilots for all that time, it’s our primary business teaching people to learn how to fly and then renting them planes so they can fly around on their own and explore the rest of the State that isn’t accessible from our limited road system,” says Versaw. He purchased the flight school in 1999 and has been the owner and chief flight instructor ever since. Alaska Flying Network recently moved to a new location in Kenai on Willow Street next to Ron’s Rent-It Center at the rear of the Kenai airfield.
Alaska Flying Networks training and rental fleet of Cessna's at the Kenai Airport.
Versaw got his pilots license back in 1985 and today is a Gold Seal, Master Flight Instructor as well as an Instrument and Advanced Ground Instructor. It all started for him when his Mom gave him a discovery flight at a flight school as a gift, “I got the bug from that first flight and teaching people to fly is something that I truly love. It’s the best way to get around in Alaska, you can drive two and half hours to get to Anchorage or jump in your plane or a rental and be there in 30 minutes, additionally many of our students want to get out and see the Alaska that most tourists can’t. Those of us who can experience that understand how lucky we are to be living where we do,” Versaw told the Dispatch.
The Alaska Flying Network is operated as a Cessna Pilot Center and has a fleet of 3 Cessna airplanes available for training and rental; a Cessna 172 Skyhawk and two Cessna 152’s with a new 162 Cessna on order which is expected in a couple of years. In addition to flight instruction and aircraft rental Alaska Flying Network offers catering services, CATS testing and a pilot’s supply store.
All FAA tests are available at the Alaska Flying Network location which features a new classroom and luxury lounge, “We offer instruction for all the FAA certifications that are available, so rather than driving to Anchorage to take the tests you can take them right here locally,” added Versaw. For anyone interested in finding out what flying is really all about Chip recommends his mother’s method, “Take a discovery flight, it involves about a half hour of flying time and an hour with an instructor showing you what the plane and flying is all about and after that if you like flying we’ll explain everything it takes and costs to get your sport license or go as far as you’d like as a pilot,” said Versaw. For more information stop by the Alaska Flying Network new location on Willow Street, they are open Monday Saturday 9:00am 5:00pm and other times by appointment by calling 283-5700 or check out their website at www.alaskaflyingnetwork.com.
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