Silver State Mess Still Being Felt a Year Later

 - February 23, 2009, 11:08 AM

A year after training school Silver State Helicopters shut its doors and declared bankruptcy–leaving 2,400 students deep in debt with their professional pilot training incomplete–helicopter flight schools are facing the double burden of tight credit and suspicion by lenders about students’ ability to repay loans. The Silver State collapse saw student accounts emptied of tens of thousands of dollars apiece by the company’s management, and lawsuits are multiplying. Today the helicopter flight training market is hurting, and many say it’s not only the economy’s fault. “Student enrollment is down,” said John Stonecipher, president of Guidance Helicopters, a flight school in Prescott, Ariz. “We’ve got a waiting list of 25 students trying to find financial aid.” Many are turning to mom and dad for loans rather than banks. The silver lining to the Silver State mess, if there is one, is that other flight schools have been able to buy many of the failed firm’s 200 Robinson R22s and R44s at bargain prices.