After More Than Two Decades, Ian Cooper’s Journey Has Brought Him Back to Vero Beach
Ian Cooper was 21 years old when he arrived at FlightSafety Academy in Vero Beach in 1997 from his home on the south coast of England. He had a computer science degree and a dream to become an airline pilot. He left 15 months later, pilot’s license in hand, to begin his career with British Airways.
Cooper returned to Vero Beach last spring, this time as co-founder of Skyborne Airline Academy, to buy FlightSafety Academy.
It was an eventful journey from student pilot to co-owner of his former flight school. Yet there were not blue skies all the way. Cooper hit a bit of turbulence, which became the turning point in his career and led him to his perch as chief operating officer of Skyborne.
Cooper flew for British Airways and Monarch Air for 11 years, climbing his way to flying Boeing 767s, often on runs across the Atlantic from London to Orlando.
“Then I got Type 1 diabetes, and I had to stop flying,” he says, recalling the dream-shattering development. “In those days you couldn’t hold a Class 1 medical certificate to fly if you had Type 1 diabetes,” he explains. (Since then, the regulations have changed and Cooper, managing his diabetes, has reclaimed his certificate and is flying again.)
At the time of his diagnosis, though, he was married with a 1-year-old daughter, and he thought, “What do I do now?”