Jul 9th, 2018

Sporty’s Pilot Shop – The Phenomenon

For those in the aviation industry, practically everyone knows of Sporty’s Pilot Shop. I had a chance to explain the Sporty’s Phenomenon to my cousin today. He is not a pilot, he is a real estate agent.  Here is what I told him.

Back in 1961 a young instructor pilot named Hal Shevers was trying to make a living. He had graduated from Purdue University with a Mechanical Engineering degree. He went to work for Cincinnati Milling Machine Company, then a machining giant. Hal found he wasn’t a very good employee and he felt they were not very good managers. So they parted ways.

While trying to figure out what to do next Hal picked up as many student pilots as he could. He discovered a radio that picked up control towers. He like it so much he offered to sell some to his students. The students loved the radios. Hal bought more and stored them in his car truck, this was the brith of Sporty’s.

What does Sporty do? When it comes to piloting just about everything except make & sell brand new planes. Their speciality is aviation education. They do it through face to face instruction, ground school and flight school. They have many of their courses on DVD and they also stream them over the internet.

Then there is the equipment. This was my introduction to Sporty’s. Back in 1986 or 1987 my roommate, Steve Hoogasian, decided they he wanted a better headset than the standard Air Force issue model. The issued model was ok. “Hoogs” want better than ok. He ordered a David Clark headset, then the Cadillac of headsets. He bought it from Sporty’s.

The headset arrived in the mail and soon thereafter their catalog at steady intervals. As I began to thumb through the catalog, I realized that Sporty’s is located close to my hometown of Cincinnati Ohio. Wow, the best pilot equipment supplier in the world is 20 miles from where I was born. That was a pretty cool thought.

Sporty’s does several other things, which can be found on their website: http://www.sportys.com However, it seems to me that there are three things they seem to do really well: one is pilot education. Two is flight instruction. Three is sell high quality equipment for pilots.

So how did all this happen from the truck of a car in Cincinnati Ohio? I decided to try to find out. In the summer of 2017 I went inside Sporty’s Headquarters for the first time. I discovered that the founder, Hal Shevers, is not only alive, but still works at Sporty’s. I wrote him a letter and asked if I could visit with him. He was very gracious and invited me over practically any day. In my next blog, I will describe that visit!

 

Note: All photos are from Sporty’s