From The Salt Lake Tribune.
Two and half years after a Cedar City-based flight school nose-dived into bankruptcy, three young Utah men face felony charges of illegally taking thousands of dollars in tuition, then leaving students with massive debts for flight instruction that was not provided.
Brothers Cole and Jarred Faddis, 28 and 30, respectively, and Jack Robert Tripp, 31, appeared in 5th District Court last week asking for bail reductions a few days after their arrests on charges filed by the Iron County Attorney’s Office. The 25-count complaint stems from their operation of National Pilot Academy from August 2006 until it shut its doors in March 2009.
Former students and their families cheered the arrests, but the prospect of getting their money back remains cloudy.
“The wheels of justice move very slowly. This is a step in the right direction,” said Sherri Hanson, the mother of a former NPA flight student who took out $60,000 in loans. “I would love to see them take this to the federal level. This was federal money that a lot of these kids had.”
NPA operated across state lines with locations in Arizona, Florida and Nevada, using leased planes, and boasted a non-existent affiliation with Utah Valley University’s aviation program to recruit students, former students say.
In 2006, Utah became the first state in the country to actively regulate flight schools. Utah was also the ONLY state in the Country that had a tuition recovery progfam in place when Silver State Helicopter Flight School shut down in February of 2008. Flight school students in Utah were able to recover $187,000.00 from the fund.
Here is a link to the applicationa flight school must file if they collect advance tuition payments:
Utah has exempted flight schools from regulation that do not collect advance tuition.
The problem with the exemption is that some "bad guys" took advantage of the exemption and collected advance tuition anyway. Here is the link to the story:
Flight schools are regulated in Utah by the Division of Consumer Protection. A 2006 state law requires them to register with the state and post a bond if they charge for instruction and aircraft time more than 24 hours in advance.
However, at least 16 Utah schools are listed as "exempt" because they are not registered and are not allowed to charge tuition in advance. Here is the list:
Air Center of Salt Lake
American Air Academy
Cache Valley Aviation
High Desert Helicopters
Leading Edge Aviation
Western Wings Aviation
Utah Jet Center
If you are attending, or have attended, one of the above listed flight schools and have paid tuition in advance, or have been solicited to pay tuition in advance, please file a complaint with the Utah Division of Consumer Affairs. Here is the link:
Utah flight schools collecting tuition in advance must be licensed and bonded.