Coast Flight’s expansion project has “taken off,” and in a few short months students seeking their pilot’s certification will have even more space to accomplish that goal as it expands its hanger at San Marcos Regional Airport.
“It's basically a remodel already underway,” said Heath Jameson, President of Coast Flight. “We’re taking part of the hanger, about a third, and remodeling it into office space, classrooms — the type of space Coast will use for flight training in the future.”
Training, Jameson says, includes academic instruction, time in a simulator, instruction in single and multi-engine aircraft … created to be an all-inclusive program that provides a clear pathway to becoming an airline pilot.
“It’s designed similarly to a military flight training school. Coast Academy was established to give students the structure and personalized attention to complete their training successfully,” Jameson said. “All total, the training takes about 12 to 14 months to complete the licensing program.
As for the hanger, when complete, it will offer an additional 4500 square feet made available to prospective pilots. Jameson said the work should be completed by Nov. 1 — six months from the time work began. “In the future, a couple years down the road, I plan to expand that hanger itself,” Jameson said. “I’d like to make it larger, with bigger doors, to accommodate larger aircraft. But that’s in the future.”
“Once we’re finished, we’ll have some American Airline representatives join Coast Flight Training for a ribbon cutting ceremony,” Jameson said.
Jameson joined Coast Flight in 2020. As a former Marine helicopter pilot, he has an impressive and extensive flight history: Retired United States Marine Corps helicopter pilot; former Flight School Instructor and Fleet Standardization pilot; 20 years of military service, United States Marine Corps; served multiple flying tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom conducting casualty evacuation and combat support missions; a recipient of 19 Air Medals, two Meritorious Service Medals and Defense Meritorious Service Medal 3,000+ incident-free flight hours in rotary and fixed-wing aircraft.
“When we first started, we were conducting a Rotor Transition Program, we took helicopter pilots from the military and transitioning them over to fixed wing,” Jameson said. “We had about 430 pilots come through the program. Now we train 60 to 70 pilots a year, mostly through our partnership with the American Airlines Cadet Academy.”
“Our partnership first launched at our San Diego location and has quickly seen success among students. Cadets who have been accepted into the program have access to flight training, mentoring and employment opportunities from both Coast and American Airlines. The Cadet Academy is an all-inclusive option that allows students to complete flight training and have a pathway to become a commercial airline pilot.”
Jessica Inacio, Senior Director of Business Attraction at the Greater San Marcos Partnership, said she’s pleased to see the development taking place at the airport. “This is great news for Coast Flight and our friends at the San Marcos Regional Airport,” Inacio said. “We celebrate the progress taking place at the city’s airport which is managed by our partners, Texas Aviation Partners.
Once students complete the first leg training, they receive 300 hours which places them on a path toward getting the 1500 hours needed to begin flying commercially. “This is the first step that leads them to the gold at the end of the rainbow,” Jameson said. “It’s not easy, and it’s a long journey, but it’s worth it.”