Refund of Unused Account Money


Well-Known Member
In other posts I stated that KS Aviation, the new owners of Sierra Academy, will not refund unused account money including any new deposits. Either I was misinformed, misunderstood, or they changed their minds, but I heard from Kevin Lee that any unused account money from deposits made after January 12, 2004 WILL be refunded if a student withdraws. I do not have this in writing, but have no reason to believe it to be false. I apologize for the confusion.
let me first say i am not a student at seirra nor have i ever been. in fact, i really don't know much about the school.BUT, from browsing through these posts the school seems to be going through some rocky financial times. my advice, TAKE YOUR MONEY AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE! (if you can), before they change their mind about the refund policy. what happens if the new owners are unable to turn a profit? the school will fold and all the students money will be gone. i feel this is partially key banks fault do to their poor policies. sending a school $60k+ up front and then leaving it up to the student to fight to get their money back should something go wrong is absolutley ridiculous. i'm still owed $7k from a school i was at about a year ago. (not ATA). there are just too many flight schools out there to choose from that are financially sound. from some of the posts i've read, many of the students have a "we should give these new guys a chance to make things better attitude". i say screw that! remember guys and gals, you are the customer. you don't owe your school anything. loyalty is an excellent quality but when your talking about the kind of dollars YOUR going to have to pay back, loyalty should take a back seat. i write this not to bash on seirra as i'm sure it is an excellent school. i just would hate to see another ATA disaster. whether a student pilot or flight instructor, we all need to stick together. we're all trying to get to the same place. happy flying..
For a lot of us, we are owed a lot of money from the previous owners. The new owners will not take responsibility for this money as they never saw it to begin with. They are however givng us flight time in an equivelent ammount of what we are owed. This is the only way we can get our money is to get what we paid for. We cannot "TAKE OUR MONEY AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE!" in fact in order to recive the flight training we are owed they are makng us sign a waiver releasing them of liability for the money that was in account before the ownership change. We can take legal action agains Skip, the old owner, but there is no money to take from the new owners. They cannot change their minds about the refund policy because all of the old contracts and legal documnets we signed when we first enrolled are still in effect. The original refund policy was detailed in one of those documents, so we do have it in writting that we get unused money back.

I do agree that it appears as if Sierra is in finacial trouble. For any new students thinking of comming here I'd recommend at least waiting a few months to see if Sierra survives. I can tell you though, that they have no intention of turning a profit. They are opening up a 135 operation and that is where they intend to make the profit. The flight schools (there are 2 locations now) are just a suppliment to the 135 operation.

I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but after having a few conversations with the new owners I feel that they do have the students best interrests in mind.
flyguy-- that's definatley a stickey situation. let me ask you this- when you guys first enrolled was there a clause to get a refund if you withdrew from the program (under skip's ownership)? and if so, are those contracts null and void because seirra now has new owners? i would think those contracts are still valid or the new owners wouldn't want you to sign a waiver releasing them of liability for the old monies. i would definatley consult a lawyer before signing any waiver with the new owners. if the 135 operation fails, your up a crick. sounds to me like their trying to get away with buying the assets and not the liabilities. it doesn't work like that. when you buy a business you take on all previous debts. the students are the creditors and they are the debtors. i really hope everything works out.
I have to admit, I was skeptical at first, but after having a few conversations with the new owners I feel that they do have the students best interrests in mind.

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You know we have talked about this in the past, but I'm going to have to say and dont take this personally.. that your nieve if you think KS Aviation has my best interest or the other students who withdrew interest in mind.

When they agreed to buy the school was it in their interest to make sure the students who were attending to have skip take their money?? If you dont think KSA had it within their power to make this part of the agreement then your deserve to get whatever Sierra Academy gives to you.. If you dont think KSA has a legal obligation to all Sierra Academies debts and liabilities your being lied to. The fact is that KSA has their own interest in mind and its obvious to those who withdrew that they could care less that we are getting screwed and that they feel no remorse for taking part in this agreement with Skip Everett.


With all due respect, KSA intentionally made a very poor, risky investment so that we could at least get the flight training we paid for. They bought the school becasue they care about it, they have a history with it. Most of them actually got their training here. They did not have to buy the school, and if they were only in this with their own interrests in mind they would have been much better buying a school that was not millions in debt. If they were only in this with their own interrests in mind they would not be spending all of this money on new aircraft, new sims, and new facilities. Nor would they have given the instructors raises. They have conferences with the students to get our opinions on how they could make improvements, and they give strong consideration to our ideas. But the fact is that doing what they did was the only way to save the school. They are no messiah, and can't just come up with the millions it would take to refund every student's account.

On the other hand, I am going to be very cautious over the
next few months. If things don't go as well as they are prommising, I'm out.

It sucks for you and the others that left, but perhaps...and don't take this personally...maybe you should have settled and gotten this mess taken care of before you left the state. You left thinking Skip Everett was going to refund your money. Who's nieve?
So let me get this straight "KSA intentionally made a very poor, risky investment so that we could at least get the flight training we paid for. They bought the school becasue they care about it". What kind of businessman would do this, let me guess....A stupid one? If you can't get your money back, then by all means take the flight time, but if anyone there gives these guys any more money I won't feel sorry for them when they loose it.

Since Sierra did not own any aircraft and leased their buildings, I am wondering why anyone bought the Oakland location. If I wanted to start a flight school, I would just start a new one. It isn't like Sierra has great name recognition. It isn't like they had a great reputation either. What exactly did these guys get out of the deal?
What kind of businessman would do this...

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A compassionate one that cares about its students. Like I said, they are not in this for a profit. Sierra Academy of Aeronautics is not KSA's main business interrest, their 135 operation is. They bought the school because they did not want to see it die, and they get pilots for their 135 operation.
It sucks for you and the others that left, but perhaps...and don't take this personally...maybe you should have settled and gotten this mess taken care of before you left the state. You left thinking Skip Everett was going to refund your money. Who's nieve?

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No I left after I found out KSA took part in this deal with Skip Everett to keep our money. I have no wish to do business with a company that would condone such activities. Sure kevin offered to let me fly my money off, but I sure as hell wont drop 1 more dime into Sierra Academy. KSA can play innocent all they want, but they are liable to.


The Oakland location was not bought. It is leased from the Port of Oakland. Essentially, the Sierra name and operations were bought. Your comment on reputation is what motivated me to post. The poor reputation is in regard to treatment of students and staff from the FORMER owner. The new ownership has not even had enough time to establish any sort of reputation with Sierra. However, KSA has been around long enough, prior to the purchase of Sierra, to establish an excellent reputation with those whom they have done business. I think KSA knows they can turn around that part of the Sierra reputation.

With regard to quality of flight training, that reputation is quite strong. Sierra is known, industry-wide, as being among the very best in flight training. ("AMONG", I didn't say we were #1. I don't even want to start a competition). Sierra grads continue to get more than their share of airline interviews with less experience than the average interviewee (even after Sept. 11). The same applies not just to interviews, but actually getting hired. The simple fact is, Sierra grads get interviews and hired by airlines with less flight experience than average. Sierra's reputation with airlines, to me, is most important. That IS great name recognition where it counts the most. Now it's just up to KSA to turn around the part about treatment of staff/students.

I have a one year challenge for all of us: come back to this forum in one year and see what is being said about Sierra and KSA. I am certain it will be overwhelmingly positive.
Sierra Pilot, with your limited knowledge of the deal with KSA and Skip and purchase and or assumption of asset and liab deals as it pertains to this situation. First, have you seen the deal between the two parties, if you should know as a third party you have the legal right to see the contract and ask for changes if any part affects you as a whole. Second a new company does not have to assume liababilities of an old one, these liabilities need to be assumned and Skips Company Sierra - ATC has, that is whom you need to deal with not Kevin at Sierra - ITC. The business world is a mess and you are correct they do not have your interest in mind, just like GE, Boeing or any Airline. Welcome to the world of competition and just bend over and take it. I believe in the new system of Sierra that is why I am staying, I have losted 65,000 and a 4 year relationship, but I assure you one thing. If this deal that you hate did not go through all of us would be standing in the wellfare line looking for a hand out. KSA did not have to assume any loan's, and I am very thankful they did. So please keep your bitterness down, it will make you all stressed and that will just make life harder then it needs to be. And by the way, I am qualified to make these statements I gave up a very good career as CPA/CFA, to go be an airline pilot. And all I care about is that and that is all you should to.
Well first off, I like to say I feel for all of you, this is truly a tough situation. I would not want to wish this on anybody. After having said that, I would agree with some of the posts above, if they is any way for you to get your money back pursue it vigorously. Hire a lawyer if necessary, KS must assume liability, they purchased a business and therefore it’s debts. KS is a business and as a business they are not going to throw money away, your well-being is beside the point, if Sierra becomes a losing venture you will get the shaft. You may get new planes and things like that, but it is because you have to spend money to make money, and KS knows it. They are not doing anything because they care personally about you. Business is not run that way. They may tell you things like that and it sounds great to hear, but if Sierra becomes a financial strain you will be the one getting hurt. In the end profits do matter- do you think accountants at KS would ignore loses every quarter? If they ran a business like that, they would be out of business! KS is going to take a shot at turning Sierra around and making money, not because they want to make sure you get trained. I attended Sierra several years ago and things certainly changed for the worse, but even then I saw the writing on the wall and chose to get out. After an FBO and another flight school I managed to make it though, build some time and now I fly corporate. So on that note, don’t expect KS to design some flow through program where Sierra students are going to land 135 jobs with them. A few lucky ones may end up with a job, but there are too many pilots out there with thousands of hrs of jet time and type ratings who will be chosen over you. In short, KS does not need a hiring pool; there are plenty of people out there much more qualified than you (at least initially.) These days most insurance companies don’t even want see anybody sitting SIC without at least 2500 hrs and 500-1000 jet/multi. Unfortunately, with PAX aboard the liability is too great. I wish all of you the best of luck with your tough decisions. Hang in there and you make it.
well said "username". i would be concerned with the 135 operation. it kind of sounds like KS is going to try to use that to subsidize the flight school. i can't really see how that will work. i do think however that the school would try to fill as many of those 135 sic positions with as many seirra flight instructors as they can. especially being in the financial position that they are. most of the highly qualified pilots "username" is refering to probably would not accept a sic job with KS and work for peanuts like the flight instructors. let's face it, many of the aircraft used in 135 operations that require two pilots, can be flown single pilot. that's how these PFT operations get away with putting a 250hr pilot in the right seat. they show him how to set the flaps, gear, and run the radios. places like gulfstream do it everyday! against popular opinion, i don't really think it's that bad of an idea. places like that aren't putting anyone out of work. there just charging someone for a job that a "qualified" pilot wouldn't take.
This message is for any Sierra students who's money has been hijacked. My name is Doug and you can contact me at I am currently gathering together all the students who have disenrolled and have had their money embezzled by Sierra. Those of you who empathize with KS need not reply. I'm sorry if you think it's okay that KS refuses to refund unused money and that you may have signed anything that releases them from liability. Goodbye and goodluck, you'll need it.
I assume that using words like embezzel and hijacked make a better image. But those are not the correct wording, those words should not be used out of anger or to bring out emotion, they should be used if or when charges or a formal lawauit is brought against the "Old Sierra". The new Sierra has no legal obligation on past student loan money. So lets use facts not words of anger. Thank you.
Alright this is my last post on this thread because I'm tired of the arguing. Say what you want after this but don't address me becasue I won't be checking this thread anymore. I'm going to say my piece and then I'm out.

Yes, KSA bought Sierra and must assume their debts, however that is what they are doing. When a customer pays for somthing they are required to recive a product or service. KSA IS PROVIDING A SERVICE for what has been paid. Furthermore, they are making us all sign a waiver releasing them of liability from any cash that is owed. Sure it is a loophole, but it means that KSA has no legal obligation to give us the money in our previous account, only to finnish our training. It was either they do it this way, or no Sierra Academy, and we'd all lose our money. We will recieve refunds on any future deposits should we leave at a later time.

For those that refuse to recieve the training they paid for, that is their problem. They can do what they can to get their money from Skip and I wish them the best of luck, but have a hard time understanding why they would not just get the training they paid for.

SierraPilot, I was under the impression you left before the sale. I find it extreemely confusing that you would leave the state after being told that the only way to recover your money is to stay at least long enough to recieve the training you paid for.

So, if we cannot trust KSA because they are a business and make decisions based on what will make money, then I guess we cannot go to any flight school anywhere. Believe it or not, every flight school in the world is a business and intends to make money off of their students. KSA is no different, and to say that they cannot be trusted because they want to make money off of their students is unfair to say the least. Even the best businesses with the best customer service still make money off of their customers. That's the whole point.

One more thing and then I'm off. The deal with the 135 operation will not be PFT. They will give Sierra grads first shot at required pilot positions and will pay them to fly. They will not be charging us to fly SIC in aircraft that requires one pilot. Even if they do set it up as PFT, there is no reason we have to do the PFT part. We could just get our ratings, instruct, and then get hired by someone that will pay us what we deserve.

Okay I'm off my soapbox now, goodbye.
Your right in sense that you cannot trust any flight school, they all are businesses and are trying to make money. This is a rough business where a lot of good people get screwed. However, there are many flight schools that are reputable and should be a safe bet. KSA has not proved that fact yet, and the asking of students to sign a release of liability is your first big red flag. I am just an outsider looking in, but it is clear to me that you do have legal rights and you should explore them before you decide to sign something or just say o.k. I'll stay here. There is an excellent chance you do not know the complete deal regarding the sale, it goes beyond hearsay and meetings between students and KSA officials. If I had any significant amounts of money tied into that place I would be damn sure I consulted legal counsel before I just decided to stick it out. As for the 135 ops, I still have great doubts about it. I have read and seen plenty of ads saying you will be stilling right seat somewhere with minimal time and guarantees for this or that, most time that is BS. Why, would I hire someone with x amount of piston time when I can hire someone who is already type rated, has 135 exp., and 1000's of hrs of jet time? These people are a dime a dozen today. The whole thing seems fishy to me from start to finish. I think many other people looking at this situation feel the same way. Good luck to you and I hope it all works out in the end.
As for the 135 it will work like a jet transition course not PFT, just Pam Am has. But instead of a sim they are actually going to use cargo planes. That is my understanding. As for people comments of a purchase having to assumes debt. THAT IS 100% FALSE. An assets purchase is what happened, and all the liabilities stayed with the old Corp which now has no assets or revenues. KSA was nice and gave use store credit where they recieved to cash to back it up. So please do not make comments like they have to assume, nothing is have to in the world.
Are you a lawyer SFLAX? no? I didnt think so. I've talked 2 two lawyers already who would disagree with you. Enough said on this topic already.

Correct and if I talked with lawyers from the KS side they would not agree with your lawyers. They are lawyers, I would trust skip before them. I have one question how much do you expect to recover from Skip, minus what the lawyers cost? Just curious.