President and Chief Pilot
Chad Fath started his helicopter training career over ten years ago. Chad was on an EMS ride alone when they had to load a patient onto a Life Flight helicopter. After talking to the pilot and the over all experience of that powerful piece of equipment Chad knew he wanted to become a helicopter pilot and one day fly this amazing machine that fascinated him so much.
A week later, Chad told his parents he found a Helicopter Flight School in California that he wanted to attend. One month later, he hopped a plane to Concord , CA , and started his training. After eleven hard months of flying and studying Chad took a job based out of Minneapolis , MN , working as a flight instructor with other duties of tours, photos, pipeline and power line patrol. After about a year, Chad received an offer to fly corporate for a construction company located in Atlanta , GA. There Chad did various flights such as flying the owner to off-airport construction sights, to and from the race tracks where the owner would race at, and some flight instruction.
Chad loved all this but missed the enjoyment and self-rewards of flight instruction. Chad then took a job in Fort Meyers , FL , where he would take on responsibilities such as the chief flight instructor and chief pilot of a 135 operation. Here Chad primarily taught people to fly, but also did a lot of passenger transport, photos, tours, alligator counting and filming of boat races. At this point in time Chad was loving life and his career as a helicopter pilot. Then all hell hit and put fear in all pilots, yes, September 11th . September 11th affected every pilot in some way. With the airspace's closed and not knowing when they would be back up to the general public, Chad went back to Minnesota and waited for everything to calm down again and started to work on his Fixed wing training. Once he completed his training he started looking for job. After setting up interviews out west Chad hopped in the car and headed out. The first stop, Las Vegas , NV . Chad interviewed with a couple companies and took one as a flight instructor. After working there awhile Chad worked his way up to senior flight instructor, tour pilot, charter pilot, and filming for the movies. With various duties ranging from Baja races, VIP charter, Grand Canyon tours, and strip tours, to teaching group ground school to the new students and stage checks with both student and CFI's.
Chad's experience contributed to his ideas on what would make the perfect flight school. With working at numerous flight schools throughout his career he found out what really works and what does not. Chad's goal became to take the best aspects of every school he worked for and some from the schools he attended. In doing so, he came up with a school that is serious and dedicated to transform you, the student, into a professional and extremely safe pilot.
Assistant Chief Pilot/Commercial Pilot
Jim Kennedy has been a part of this school since it's opening. Jim originally owned a successful construction company but about 10 years ago decided to become a full time instructor. When Jim isn't in his office, teaching students, or flying around the tri-state area he can be found giving a helping hand on our many projects. Jim is also an avid drag racer with amazing outcomes in his days of drag racing. Jim has won numerous events around the country and he is a former IHRA world champ.
Walt Edmundson has been fascinated with aviation since his childhood. At the age of 19 he talked to a United States Marine Corps Recruiter and learned that one had to complete a four year bachelors degree and be commissioned as an Officer to have a chance of flying in the military. With the war already in full swing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, he chose to enlist as a Private instead and was in Boot Camp at Parris Island ten days later.
He served as a driver of a M1A1 Abrams in Iraq and was promoted to Corporal. Later while holding the billet of gunner in the 2nd Tank Battalion he had the opportunity to participate in casualty evacuation training and got to ride in a CH-53 over Onslo beach on the North Carolina coast. He knew that being a pilot was a dream that had to be fulfilled.
After receiving his honorable discharge from the USMC he returned home and began researching the GI Bill and aviation programs near his family. The current and future job markets projections showed him that rotorcraft pilots were needed desperately and he decided to pursue a career as a helicopter pilot instead of his childhood dream of flying airplanes.
Walt is currently a commercial pilot with Higher Ground as he is pursuing a Bachelors degree at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He is a common name on the Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Deans List with a 3.7 GPA..
John started his helicopter career in 2008. He had lost his long time job due to the company selling out and closing the doors. His wife is a nurse and has a career that she can take anywhere and he wanted the same thing! John took his first helicopter ride at a county fair when he was 11 years old and loved every bit of it, but never once thought that is what was in his future.
In the late summer of 2008 John had received the news that his job would be ending in October of that year. At that time he and his wife and some friends were down on the Ohio River for the fireworks and heard Higher Ground Helicopters advertising over the radio. He thought being a helicopter pilot would be a career that he could take anywhere and be successful. After discussing it with his wife and her laughing about it because to this day John does not like to ride roller coasters, he started his flight training! John completed his training and became a Certified Flight Instructor.
John and his wife welcomed their first child in 2011, a beautiful baby boy and then a beautiful daughter in 2015. Although John has just started working as a full time flight instructor for Higher Ground Helicopters in early 2015, he has always spent his summers working as a commercial pilot doing tours and demonstration flights for the school.
When Jeremy was a kid it was always his dream to fly. He visited the Air Force Museum every summer with his grandma to see the airplanes. As he got older and began working on the family farm he gave up on the dream to fly. Jeremy also worked several jobs over the years including construction, body shop, CNC operator, and plumber. While working at the CNC shop work slowed down and it started to look like there was not going to be a job there for much longer. Jeremy then started thinking about what he wanted to do for a career. He heard a motivational speech about how people that are the happiest with their job are those doing something they dreamed of doing as a child. He started thinking of what he always wanted to do and remembered his dream of wanting to fly from his younger days. After about two years of research, a demo flight and the help of his parents he finally started the career he has always dreamed of. Jeremy is currently a full-time instructor here at HGH.