San Carlos Airport is home to four flight schools that perform the essential role of training the next generation of pilots. In this edition of “Friendly Approach News,” we feature the San Carlos Flight Center.
Founded in 2012, San Carlos Flight Center—located at the San Carlos Airport (SQL)— celebrates aviation through its core values of safety, community, and adventure. The center is comprised of a team of experts in administration, safety, flight instruction, and aircraft maintenance, and is led by Bay Area–native Alessandro Franco.
In their early 20s, most adults are only beginning to determine their interests and career path. That isn’t the case for Alessandro, who, at age 21, is the owner and operator of this thriving flight center. From a young age, Alessandro was fascinated by all things aviation. His passion began with LEGO airports and model airplane toys, soon realizing that aviation was a real career path he was eager to explore.
His father was a general aviation pilot who had been flying out of SQL for as long as Alessandro can remember. At age 14, a flight with his father sealed his fate in aviation. “I went up for a flight with my dad, and my eyes lit up. I thought, ‘this is awesome,’” Alessandro recalled. At 17, he learned to fly through an Upwind Scholarship, a SQL- based program for local high school students that covers the full cost of ground school, flight training, and the FAA check ride—all required to earn a private pilot license. Learn more at www.upwindscholarship.com.
In 2017, Alessandro joined the San Carlos Flight Center team as the Director of Operations. In this role, his mentor was the center’s founder and previous owner, Dan Dyer. He gained valuable knowledge in the logistics of managing a successful flight school. In 2020, Alessandro purchased the company from Dan, who remains on staff in an advisory role. “Mentorships can open up so many doors. If you asked me four years ago what I would be doing today, I wouldn’t tell you this.”
He recognizes the importance of being a good neighbor and that the center’s flight operations can be disruptive. He ensures his team remains informed, and they ask pilots to practice preferred flight procedures and to fly friendly when departing from and landing at SQL and Half Moon Bay Airport. Alessandro knows how fortunate he and his customers are to train at both of these airports in the beautiful Bay Area.
Alessandro loves the industry because there are so many careers in aviation beyond flight training. Flying an airplane is incredible, but it’s not for everyone. “There are so many crucial roles and people needed to keep planes in the sky.” As a result, he recommends that those interested in the industry explore all of their options and keep an eye out for scholarship opportunities.
Thank you to Alessandro and the many others on his team who dedicate their days to equipping aspiring pilots to have successful careers and addressing the pilot shortage.
Learn more about the San Carlos Flight Center team and operation at https://sancarlosflight.com.