By Dyann Nashton
(Smithfield, Hamilton, NY – Nov. 2012) The 1960s were what Rick Bargabos calls “The Golden Age of General Aviation.” It was then that he recalls riding along in his parents’ single-engine Piper Cherokee while his mother, Betty, was learning to fly. She was taking lessons from Jim Hertel, a local flight instructor in Canastota at the time.
Those lessons resulted in her taking her solo cross-country flight and accomplishing her goal of becoming competent to take off, fly to a different airport and independently land the plane.
That seed of a memory, combined with the fact that his father, Bill, and oldest brother, Mike, are instrument-rated private pilots, has made his interest of flying not only a family affair (his wife, Mary Beth, is also a private pilot), but a personal passion he hopes to share.
Today, Bargabos is the owner of Eagle View Flight Training at the Hamilton Municipal Airport. He started the business a year ago Nov. 12. Eagle View Flight Training provides high-quality reliable flight instruction at a reasonable cost, he said. His students come to him for a number of reasons: recreation, business or even to pursue careers in aviation.
It’s interesting to note the history of the area and small airports like the one that hosts Eagle View Flight Training. Bagabos said that after World War II and up until the late 1970s, there were small airports and grass airstrips near almost every small town “where you could just stop by on any nice day and get a flight lesson.”
By the mid-1980s, he said, there were at least six flight schools at public use airports within a half-hour drive from Canastota. They included Canastota, Durhamville, Oriskany, Hamilton, Norwich and Syracuse.
There were also grass airstrips in Lakeport, Chittenango, Union Corners Cazenovia, Smithfield and Kirkville.
It is in that vein that he began Eagle View Flight Training.
“It’s a traditional, old-fashioned, rural flight school,” he said.
The changing climate of local aviation provided a window of opportunity for Bargabos.
“For nearly 20 years now, there have been few options available for prospective students to receive reliable flight instruction from a full-time instructor in our area,” he said.
Airports in Canastota, Durhamville and Oriskany have all closed. Syracuse offers flight instruction, but may not have a full-time instructor dedicated to primary flight training. Rome maintains a flight school at Griffiss Airport, but Norwich no longer offers flight instruction.
While Eagle View Flight Training’s full-time experienced instructor and year-round, seven-days-a-week availability are selling features, Bargabos said the most important characteristic is value.
“Earning a pilot certificate is expensive and requires a major commitment of time and money,” Bargabos said. “It is my primary goal and responsibility to ensure that each student pilot is successful and receives something of great value in exchange for their investment in time and money.”
Students spend about 90 minutes per visit with two-thirds of that time spent in the air. They are primarily using a four-seat Cessna 172 Skyhawk and a two-seat Cessna 150. For advanced training, there is a Maule M5-235, a single-engine High Peformance Tailwheel Aircraft. Bargabos said the aircraft are in excellent condition and are well-maintained by Lewis Petersen of Valley View Aviation, an experienced FAA-licensed aircraft mechanic with inspection authorization.
Bargabos’ credentials speak of his experience and training. He said he earned his private pilot’s license in 1987. Since then he has earned his commercial pilot certificate, with an instrument rating for single- and multi-engine airplanes, including pressurized turbine-powered aircraft with high-altitude endorsement.
He has a private pilot certificate for single-engine seaplanes, his flight instructor certificate for single-engine airplanes and is authorized to instruct to the commercial pilot level.
Bargabos also has a light sport aircraft repairman certificate with inspection and maintenance ratings.
Bargabos is chairman of the Madison County Industrial Development Agency and has served as the Madison County supervisor for the town of Smithfield for more than a decade. He has been a farmer for more than 30 years and spent some time as an earthmoving contractor.
“The flight school has exceeded my expectations, so I have had to devote most of my time to training new pilots,” he said.
Eagle View Flight also provides scenic tours. The company has Federal Aviation Administration approval to provide commercial air tours or rides within a 25-mile radius of any airport within the Albany Flight Standards District Office. The area spans 24 New York state counties.
For more information about Eagle View Flight Training, call 315.447.0366.
Dyann Nashton is contributing writer for the Madison County Courier and madisoncountycourier.com.