On Tuesday, Oct. 15, La Jolla residents John and Martha King were celebrated for their recent enshrinement into the National Aviation Hall of Fame. At this ceremony, the couple was recognized for their strides in aviation education through the impact they have made as co-founders, co-chairmen, and co-owners of King Schools, Inc.
The Kings co-founded the aviation school King Schools in 1975 after having difficulties in another business. When they started their school, both John and Martha each had been certified pilots for around 15 years. They wanted to dedicate their time to benefiting the aviation community and making aviation education accessible.
“We enjoyed the knowledge part of flying so much,” said Martha King. “We wanted to share a love of flying, and we thought that this would be a fun and purposeful way to spend our time.”
For the first 10 years of the couple’s business, they traveled throughout the country teaching weekend-long “Ground School” training courses to help pilots pass their FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) knowledge tests in order to become licensed pilots.
Once video started to become popular, the Kings started selling their courses on VHS tapes so that pilots could complete Ground School in their own homes. Today, the Kings’ training courses are available online.
“By the magic of technology, we wound up teaching about half of the pilots in the country who have learned to fly,” said John King. “Through the years, ‘John and Martha’ became important in the lives of lots of pilots.”
King Schools has grown immensely since its start in the mid-’70s. The company is headquartered in Kearny Mesa and employs 50 people who work in everything from videography to course production to software.
In addition to their flexibility with changing technology, the Kings attribute their success to soliciting and listening to the feedback of their customers. This feedback has allowed the Kings to master their craft as educators and improve the lives of so many of the nation’s pilots.
“When you learn to fly, it consumes a lot of your energy,” said John King. “If you’re in command of an airplane that can go at high speeds in three dimensions, it changes who you are and how you feel about yourself forever. In our process, we are giving people better lives.”
Although the Kings are proud of the strides that they have made in aviation education, they are touched that the National Aviation Hall of Fame has recognized them together.
“We’ve done everything as equal partners,” said John. “We’re both good teachers, we’re both good students, we’re both good on video.”
“We’re both flight instructors,” said Martha finishing her husband’s thought. “This is just a fantastic recognition of our partnership and what we’ve been able to do for people together as a couple.”
To learn more about John and Martha’s King Schools, visit kingschools.com.