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National Flight Simulator of Manchester is SBA’s New Hampshire Veteran Owned Business of the Year.

Stephen (Steve) Cunningham, a U.S.  Air Force veteran began his career in aviation in 1960  as a USAF mechanic, also known as Aircraft Crew Chief. After leaving the Air Force, he worked as a tester of military and airline jet engines. In 1970, Steve attended the University of NH and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Service. After dedicating 22 years managing several Boys and Girls Clubs, his passion evolved from repairing engines to flying them. He fulfilled his dream of becoming a pilot receiving his license in 1990. He then went on to serve as the President and CEO of the United States Aerobatic Foundation, which was the administrative and fundraising arm of the United States Aerobatic Team.

Not yet ready for retirement and realizing a real need for trained pilots, Steve found his niche and a great use for his pilot license. National Flight Simulator (NFS) was founded in 2006 and is  operating at the Manchester airport,  as a state-of-the-art aviation training center for pilots. NFS is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved simulator-based training center that provides ground training for both initial and recurrent flight training. NFS employs independent contractors experienced with flying a variety of aircraft as instructors who provide customers a one-on-one learning experience. They use sophisticated simulators that replicate the cockpit and controls of the training aircraft. Simulated scenery and weather conditions are projected on screens that cover the pilot’s field of view. The customized training programs recreate the exact instrument panels for dozens of different planes and digital displays. The company trains military pilots that are the Ecuadorian (FAE) and Colombian Air Forces (FAC) along with many domestic pilots from all over the country.

Steve has received technical assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) resource partners, SCORE and NH Small Business Development Center (NH SBDC), and has received funding from the Community Regional Development Center (CRDC) under the SBA ILPP (Intermediary Lending Pilot Program) through a direct loan in 2017. The test center has 17 seats, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) pre check screening service, 4 Elite flight simulators that emulate several different aircraft.  “We visited National Flight Simulator last fall during National Veterans Small Business Week,” stated NH SBA director Greta Johansson. “We were reassured at the visit that Steve is an amazing man and his company has much to offer.  We are pleased to be able to recognize his contributions.”

Steve is passionate about his service and helping other veterans realize their dreams. Steve is from a large family filled with veterans.  His older brother Timothy served in the Korean War, two brothers are USAF veterans, other siblings served in the US Navy, and his younger brother served in Viet Nam with the USAF and eventually retired as a full colonel.  Many of his nephews and nieces are also veterans. And his oldest grandson served in the Army and successfully completed a tour in Afghanistan. When Steve was asked about his future this is how he replied, “One of my remaining “bucket list” items, upon retirement, is to work with homeless veterans to find adequate housing, mental and physical health care and job potentials in order to help the vet feel whole again.”

Steve commented about his selection for this award, “We are honored to be recognized by SBA and even more honored to serve our customers, many veterans themselves, that are able to use our training to enhance their skills and fill a gap in the industry for highly skilled pilots.” 

So, if you have always wanted to learn to fly and make that dream come true, visit National Flight Simulator today!!

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