Two years ago, Bill Inglis faced a career-altering decision. For more than a decade, he’d worked as a flight instructor for SimCom, but in 2010, the company moved their Vero Beach facility to Orlando. SimCom offered to transfer Inglis—who was the training center manager—but instead he chose to stay and open his own flight school, Legacy Flight Training.
Inglis decided to remain in Vero Beach not only because it had been his own home for more than ten years, but also because it’s home to Piper Aircraft. Situated just a few steps from Piper headquarters at the Vero Beach Municipal Airport, Legacy provides its customers with several unique opportunities.
“People really like Vero Beach because the Piper factory is here,” says Inglis. “Customers can have updates or repairs on their aircraft done while they train, and I can arrange for them to go on tours of the factory.”
Legacy’s location near Piper isn’t its only unique draw. In addition to offering in-cockpit training, Legacy has two Redbird full-motion FMX flight simulators. Since the school specializes in flight training for Piper owners, Inglis purchased one simulator to serve as a Meridian and another as a Mirage/Matrix—the only flight school offering full-motion simulations in these models. Outside of the fact that the two FMXs are full-motion, a major advantage of the Redbird machines is their interchangeable instrumentation.
While most simulators offer a generic panel setup or are based on a single model of airplane, nearly everything in the FMX simulators is interchangeable, including the sticks, the throttle quadrant, and the entire instrument panel. The Meridian simulator, for example, can be outfitted to represent three different glass cockpits—the Meggitt Magic, Avidyne Entegra, and the Garmin G1000—while the Mirage/Matrix simulator can be configured to represent the Avidyne or the Garmin panel. Such diverse capabilities were the primary reason Inglis chose Redbird.
“Over the years, it’s been frustrating when customers can’t train on the same panel as they have in their own planes,” says Inglis. “So the number-one benefit to Redbird simulators is their interchangeable instrument panels. And it takes only five minutes to change them out. With Redbirds, you get several different airplanes for the cost of just one simulator.”
Keeping a flight training school in Vero Beach is not only beneficial for the aviation industry, but it also helps the surrounding community. Many of the local hotels, rentalcar agencies, and restaurants get a steady stream of business from Legacy’s customers, most of whom come from out of state to receive training.
“By keeping a training facility here, we’re preserving the revenue our customers bring to local businesses,” said Inglis. “I’m not saying we’re the area’s main attraction, but our customers are definitely a source of consistent, year-round income for many local businesses. And in today’s economy, that level of income can be crucial.”