Founded in 1939, Central is Arkansas' oldest general aviation firm. Today, through uncompromising dedication to excellence in everything we do, Central Flying Service is the premier general aviation firm in the south.
As a proud, longstanding member of the Central Arkansas business community, we are pleased to offer each of our customers a brand of signature service carefully built on knowledge and experience over the course of 80 years in our industry.
What began with Claud Holbert's passion for flying so many years ago is still transforming the way we think about general aviation. Our world-class maintenance, repair, and overhaul facilities in Little Rock are staffed by the finest pilots, technicians, and designers in the industry. Great service is an art. And everyone at Central takes pride in the work we do on a daily basis.
On February 1, 2015 Central sold its leasehold at Little Rock National to TAC Air. With this transaction behind us, Central no longer offers Line Service.
TAC Air has assumed the duty of fueling aircraft, and Central will continue to govern the growing demand for Charter, Maintenance, Repair, Overhaul, Paint, Interiors, Aircraft Sales, and Flight Training.
To learn more about who we are and what we do best, please continue to visit us on the web and follow us on social media.
General Aviation firm
in the South.
General Aviation firm
in the South.
In 1939 very few people had even seen the inside of an aircraft, and even fewer still were qualified to give flight instruction. But the first commercial flights in 1914 and the end of World War I had changed the way we looked at the sky. People were beginning to pursue their dreams of flying.
Learning to fly meant joining the select few who had already committed their lives to the freedom of the open air. It meant coming into direct contact with experiences and situations most people only witnessed on the silver screen - or listened to in stories. But once in a while, a visionary appears. And visionaries do more than just tell stories. A visionary turns dreams, even the dreams of others, into reality.
Claud Holbert was one of those men. He knew what would be demanded of his country as it rose to meet the significant challenges that lay ahead. And while most people busied themselves with news of the second looming war in Europe, Claud L. Holbert set out to change the future. And it was his vision which literally opened the skies above Central Arkansas, giving those willing to accept the challenge the opportunity to earn their wings.
By the time the US Government designated Central Flying Service an Advanced War Pilot Training Center leading into World War II, Claud Holbert's method of training young men to meet the challenges of flight was widely known. And with sixty-five aircraft and thirty flight instructors looking to him for leadership, Claude Holbert guided his students and his growing company into aviation history.
But that's just the beginning of the story.
Are you ready to write your name into the rich history of aviation at Central Flying Service?
Find out if you've got what it takes to earn your wings. Visit our Flight Training Department today.
Speak with a professional pilot: 501-975-9330
BUILDING THE FUTURE
BUILDING THE FUTURE
When Claud Holbert took his first solo flight at age 17, something magical happened; a singular experience that would change him forever, he knew that day what his life's work would be. He saw the future stretched out before him along the horizon, and he reached out and touched it. Claud spent the next several years perfecting his flying skills and making connections in the growing field of aviation. And by the time he was 29, he was ready. That December, he secured a loan of $1,241 and purchased a 1939 Taylorcraft - officially opening for business on a strip of land on the south bank of the Arkansas River. Adams field became home to Central Flying Service in December, 1939. With little more than a passion for flight and a small loan from the bank, Claud Holbert laid the foundation for what is today the Premiere General Aviation Firm in The South and the oldest, largest flight school in the region.
On December 27, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt began a pilot training program in anticipation of America's inevitable entry into the conflict in Europe. The Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) was born. Central Flying Service began preparing pilots to face the daunting challenges of war. Growth was steady and spirits were high. As anticipated, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the CPTP became the WTS; War Training Service. And by the summer of 1944, over 430,000 people, including hundreds of women and African-Americans, had been taught to fly. Jobs were created. Aircraft were being built and sold. Central acquired a Ford Tri Motor, and the state's first private commercial air service was born. Between 1945 and 1950 over twenty aviation businesses began at or around Adams Field. But Central Flying Service, under Claud Holbert's leadership, flourished in a challenging environment. It was time to grow. And in 1948, Central became Arkansas' first Beechcraft dealer. The Bonanza was introduced to Arkansas that year when Claud took delivery of serial number 23, thus beginning a relationship that endures to this day.
Until 1956, Central operated an auxiliary field in North Little Rock as required by CPTP and WTS regulations. Central Airport, as it was called, was home to two grass strips, a hangar, fuel facilities, and a restaurant. With hangars and fields on both sides of the river, Claud Holbert's small business was widely recognized as a vital, growing part of the Central Arkansas business community. Major customers in the 50's and 60's included The Arkansas Air National Guard, Winthrop Rockefeller, Raymond Rebsamen, and Chris Finkbeiner.
In 1964 Central received an award from Beech Aircraft as "the first independent Beechcraft dealer to exceed one million dollars in sales. In 1968 Forrest Stolzer, a Central pilot, was awarded the National Aviation Mechanics Safety award by the FAA for his safety innovations. That same year, Don Holbert, Claud's oldest son, returned home from a distinguished six-and-a-half-year duty in the U.S. Army to become a Vice President. A helicopter pilot, Don was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor and 32 other Air Medals for his service in Vietnam. Central was growing by leaps and bounds, setting standards and starting trends. The recognition and accolades were pouring in.
By 1975, the time had come for Claud Holbert to retire. Don Holbert assumed the duties of President, and Dick Holbert stepped up as Executive Vice President. It is said that Claud never actually "retired." As Dick would fondly recall years later, "He retired several times. He worked out here until the day he died." It must have been hard for a man who lied about his age so he could join the Arkansas Air National Guard in 1926 to walk away from something he'd dedicated himself to wholeheartedly for over 50 years. And by all accounts, Claud Holbert never actually left. His vision, leadership, and integrity are the foundation of Central Flying Service. We carry his passion and commitment to excellence in general aviation with us today. Claud loved to fly. Many who knew him fondly recount that he spent more time in the air and logged more flight hours than anyone else on earth. It isn't hard to imagine. His contribution to aviation in the state of Arkansas is without equal.
In 1980, under the leadership of Mickey McGill, Central's Parts Department became the first independent Beechcraft Dealer to exceed one million dollars in parts sales. In March 1981, Don Holbert became Chairman of the Board when Claud stepped down, and Dick assumed the role of President. Claud was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1982. In the years that followed, Central would continue to grow, overcoming obstacles and providing legendary instruction, service, and support to the general aviation community. Multiple awards from Beechcraft in the areas of sales, maintenance, and flight training coupled with massive construction projects continued to grow Central's footprint at Adams Field. Adding The Flight Deck restaurant and introducing general aviation to "The Greatest Cheeseburger in Aviation History" are not least among Central's list of achievements. If it has to do with aviation, we've done it.
In 2002, with the acquisition of Midcoast Aviation, Central became the largest FBO in the world. With more square feet under roof than any other facility on earth, Central began offering customers the finest technical and aesthetic services available in the industry. On the heels of tremendous growth and consistent excellence in service, Don and Dick Holbert were inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2017, Central's Flight Training School crossed the 475,000 Flight Hour Threshold.
We remain committed to the vision and ideals Claud Holbert brought to everything he did. Everyone at Central knows the story of a young man's dream bringing general aviation to the state of Arkansas. It isn't hard to see. America's global economic leadership is propelled by general aviation. Central is an integral part of the world's leading air transportation system.
And we still dream.
To learn more about what Central Flying Service has to offer, visit our shops and departments online and see what customers are saying about the consistency and excellence that brings them back to Central time and time again.
Like so many others who have come before us, we yearn to feel a connection to something bigger than ourselves.
With the trends in modern aviation and aerospace technologies on course to deliver human beings to the surface of Mars within the coming decade, we are positioning ourselves to provide for the needs of a dynamic and ever-changing market.
At the beginning of 2015, The FAA began negotiations with CNN and other news gathering outlets across the country to allow, for the first time, the commercial operation of UAS. (Unmanned Aerial Systems) But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Arkansas native Robert Davis of Arkansas Aerials designs, builds, and trains pilots to fly UAS right here in Central Arkansas. And he's on track to obtain licensure and certification to train UAS pilots in Arkansas. We are DEFINITELY excited about the future.
ASTEROID MINING: H.R. 2262 creates an "off-planet economy which will forever change our lives for the better," according to Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc. which is backed by Google’s founders and film-maker James Cameron. Watch as Chris explains the ins and outs of asteroid mining. Additionally, teams of researchers have confirmed an electromagnetic propulsion drive, which is fast enough to get to the Moon in four hours, actually works.
Billionaire SpaceX entrepreneur Elon Musk has already been successful in resupplying the International Space Station with privately funded civilian technology, and he's committed his company to the prospect of building the first sustainable colony on Mars. At a third the cost of Space Shuttle flights, SpaceX is revolutionizing the way we resupply orbital stations. Still think it's a crazy idea? Watch this short video of Elon explaining his surprisingly simple idea:
The Business Model for Mars.