Growing Aviation’s Leaders

Cargill’s CFIs teach clients within both Diamond and Cessna aircraft with modern glass panels. Susan Naylor-Adams

The business of aviation is about far more than simply learning to fly. If your heart is set on being an industry leader, whether in the cockpit or the executive suite, you owe it to yourself to read on. Based at Capital City Airport near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Cargill Aeronautical Academy is a Part 61 flight school, aircraft rental and maintenance facility that has been offering quality flight training since 2012. Now it’s reaching out to grow aviation’s next batch of professionals.

The academy’s founder, Susan Naylor-Adams, has a reputation for offering far more value than customers ever expect. She’s transformed Cargill from a simple mom-and-pop flight school into a place not only where experienced certified flight instructors (CFIs) teach clients in quality equipment—the school offers both Diamond and Cessna aircraft with modern glass panels, as well as a Redbird digital motion flight simulator—but is also a full-service aviation educational provider, with the advent of the academy’s online Emerging Leaders in Aviation certificate program.

“The course load is full of key skills, from a core competency class to financial planning for aviation businesses and customer service; it is information that aviation professionals need for growth and success in the industry,” explains Naylor-Adams, who developed the program for Cargill. Naylor-Adams’ experience includes an MBA in finance, senior executive positions in the healthcare industry, and teaching Master-level finance classes. Her love of aviation drove her to save a failing flight school, and her skills as a business person and finance executive helped her to find the right employees, develop them, and turn Cargill Aeronautical Academy into the regional economic driver it is today.

One of three private flight training rooms. Susan Naylor-Adams

“We are expanding our programs to include professional development because we see the need among our clients,” Naylor-Adams says. “We know that clients coming to us are not necessarily interested in a four-year degree program, so the Emerging Leaders program is designed to take just one year to complete. It is critical to have a CV containing differentiators if you want to get ahead in aviation—a certificate program such as ours can be exactly that,” she continues.

The Emerging Leaders in Aviation program from Cargill consists of six courses delivered online through its learning management system. Clients can take the courses individually or pay the entire $670 fee for all six. These include: Aviation Safety, Aviation Customer Service, Aviation Investment, Aviation Financial Planning, Aviation Core Competencies and Aviation International Law. Why those six?

“I wanted to dive into the different areas of management that I felt had the most impact,” Naylor-Adams says. “Safety, for instance, is extremely important in this industry, as it is in healthcare. So I felt it was extremely important to have an understanding what drives safety in the aviation industry.” With the investment and finance courses, Naylor-Adams is hoping to educate participants on the particular math that can make or break a small aviation business; and as far as the law is concerned, it had to be international because the aviation industry literally spans the globe.

A classroom at Cargill Aeronautical Academy, where students learn information that aviation professionals need for growth and success in the industry. Susan Naylor-Adams

Naylor-Adams sees the one-year, six-class, self-directed professional development program as just a beginning for Cargill. Her hope is that larger companies will see the value in her program and enroll their employees as part of an effort to invest in their growth. Best of all, the program is not limited to Cargill’s aviation clients. “Anyone with internet access can take courses and earn the certificate without ever having to come to central Pennsylvania,” she explains.

“We have already begun a maintenance technician apprentice program to help us keep our maintenance shop staffed and contribute to our community,” she explains. “One day, I hope we can link our Emerging Leaders program to a local college, where continuing education credits might be available for those who complete the course, but that is in the future. Right now the focus is creating a means by which those who are not interested in degree programs can get a holistic aviation education that will serve them in their professional aviation careers, and do it all right here at Cargill Aeronautical Academy.”

To register for or learn more about the Emerging Leaders in Aviation Online Professional Development Program courses, go to For more information about Cargill Aeronautical Academy, visit

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