UPDATE: Helicopter School Operating Illegally

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock, February 9, 2008

AIKEN and COLUMBIA, S.C. -- New information tonight about a helicopter company after it unexpectedly stops its operations across the country. News 12 has learned Silver State Helicopters - based out of Las Vegas - had a flight school in Columbia and at least 5 people from our area were enrolled.

News 12 investigated the company and found out they didn't even have an education license in South Carolina.

Future pilots could be out of thousands of dollars and Silver State Helicopters is out of business. Now, we're learning they should not have been in business in the first place right here in Columbia, South Carolina.

"We're all frustrated. We want some answering," says student Jonathan Glover.

Earlier this week, Silver State filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy meaning people like David Wilson left with a stack of books and bills.

"We're out so much money right now. We're working with the individual loan companies as well as trying to get people involved from the state and federal level to have the problem taken care of," says David.

On Thursday evening, David and his classmates meeting in Columbia to figure out just what to do.

"The frustration we're finding is we're scrambling back and forth between people and organizations," says David.

News 12 investigated and found out from the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, the school never had an educational license to teach future pilots in the state. So, they operated without a license... illegally.

"We were told it wasn't licensed. They did not have an educational license. They did not hide it," says student Tim Wilson.

So, you ask, why did Tim still go through with the school?

"Well, I was already into it. They didn't tell us before hand," says Tim.

The commission only finding out about the school when a parent called them in July asking if they were authorized to train in the state.

"What seems to be too good to be true that usually is what it is," says David.

We obtained a list of e-Mail communications between the commission and Silver State, starting in July. On the 19th, the commission saying Silver State must stop operation and enrolling students until a license is obtained. Nothing by December and nothing until the day they closed. Jonathan says, he always was questioning when the school was going to get their license and was told...

"We're getting a license. We're always just getting the run around," says Jonathan.

David even shook the apparent owners hand.

"And talked with Jerry Airola about the school, the programs expectations for the future with this company. Disappointed doesn't even begin to cover it," says David.

The State Commission tells News 12, they most likely will not sue Silver State because the company is bankrupt. They add, they are looking at ways to strengthen consumer protection to make sure this doesn't happen again.

To learn more on how you can protect yourself, click on the link below.
http://www.che.sc.gov/AcademicAffairs/License/Is_This_A_Good_School_brochure.pdf


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