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Vero Beach's Private Air Force

With 92 planes and a rotating roster of eager young pilots, the FlightSafety Academy has won recognition as one of the best aviation schools in the world.

When Richard Skovgaard retried from the U.S. Air Force in 1988, he never dreamed that he would one day head a private air force in a small Florida city called Vero Beach. Yet happenstance and a willingness to seek new opportunities elf him to this totally unexpected second career.

Today, at 63, Skovgaard is director and center manager of the FlightSafety Academy, the Vero Beach-based division of FlightSafety International, the largest pilot-training organization in the world.

Seated in his corner office at the academy's flight operations building at Vero Beach Municipal Airport, Skovgaard gazes out upon rows of Piper bearing the academy's red-and-blue logo. They are lined up with a precision that makes them look like a squadron of P-51s awaiting the call to action in World War II.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2001 issue