Sporty’s Pilot Shop Founder and Chairman Hal Shevers Speaks at Wichita Aero Club Luncheon
April 2, 2012 8:14am
Hal Shevers, founder and chairman of the Batavia, Ohio-based Sporty’s Pilot Shop, shared his experiences from 51 years in the aviation business with the Wichita Aero Club at its monthly luncheon March 21 at the Doubletree Hotel by Hilton at Wichita Airport.
Shevers, a flight instructor who launched his pilot shop in 1961, was accompanied by his wife, Sandy, and three executives from his business team and its partner companies – Michael Wolf, president of Sporty’s Pilot Shop; Bret Koebbe, vice president, video, of Sporty’s Academy Flight School; and Charlie Masters, vice president, sales, Eastern Cincinnati Aviation.
Shevers started his business by selling radios that could pick up air traffic control transmissions to flight students from the trunk of his car. Today, Sporty’s corporate headquarters, flight school and fixed-base operator business is located at the Clermont County Airport, also called Sporty’s Airport.
Shevers said he was honored to be speaking at the “home of general aviation” and drew the contrast his pursuits had with the aircraft manufacturing tradition of Wichita.
“We’re at the other end of aviation,” Shevers told approximately 110 luncheon attendees. “We’re trying to get somebody who loves aviation as a passion or who is building a passion within them and get them to take their first flight. That’s what we are.”
Along with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Shevers pioneered three-day ground schools for flight students in the early days of his career. Now, Sporty’s Academy is an FAA-approved Part 141 flight school that trains hundreds of students a year. Sporty’s also oversees the University of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Training program.
Shevers discussed his company’s philanthropic mission through The Sporty’s Foundation, which was designed to create opportunities for young people to learn about airplanes, expose them to aviation environments and provide opportunities for them to experience flight first-hand. He said the foundation provided almost $180,000 in grants to various organizations in 2011.
“You learn, you earn, you return,” Shevers said. “Right now, Sandy and I are very much in the return part of our lives, and Sporty’s has been returning for years.”
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will be the featured speaker at the next Wichita Aero Club luncheon, which is scheduled for April 11.