300 student pilots frauded by ex delta captain (jim williams)


Apr 29, 2003
On February 28th, 2003 Airline Training Academy, owned and operated by Jim Williams ex captain for delta ailines and his three sons, closed its doors to business leaving over 300 young student pilots with a destroyed dream, no money, no education, no where to go and been ask to repay a loan for $40,000 up to $100,000 thru Key Bank.
I’ ve been in the restaurant business as manager for more than fifteen years working hard, 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, to take care of my family and arising my child, finally after so many years, I could realized my child dream, flying airplanes, so when I started school at Airline Training Academy, it was like a dream come true. I was on my way toward becoming a professional pilot.
I moved to Orlando, Florida in October of 2002, by myself leaving my family and son behind in Miami, to begin flight school at Airline Training Academy (ATA).
The school was $55,000, which, obviously, is an extremely large sum of money, but for all I had been promised to get for my money, it was well worth it. I was not going to let money stand in the way of my dream. All the other schools were fairly comparable in cost but they did not offer what I wanted. However, unlike most institutions, where students pay as they go, ATA demanded all of the money up front. If students paid up front, they were enrolled in the “guaranteed†program, which meant that a student would not pay anymore than he/she had initially paid, even if the student did not finish his/her training as scheduled. For example, if a student needed 40 hours or 200 hours to acquire a rating, he/she would still pay the same amount. It sounded too good to be true…I should have listened to the old cliché, “When it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.†Unfortunately, I listened to my heart instead, took out a “Key Alternative Loan†for $55,000 (Bank picked by ATA), and they sent it to ATA. With a loan this large, I would be making payments for the next 20 years, but I was willing to make such a large sacrifice for something I wanted so badly.
I started the class on December 5, 2002, and began flying two weeks after that. On February 28, 2003, the school was shut down. It only lasted a couple of months. I was informed that the school was out of money and would be shut down. My worst nightmare had come true.
The thought of losing $55,000 (plus interest and fee $40,000) is sickening, but what sickens me more than that is the idea of possibly never flying again. I have exhausted all my funds into ATA, so I can’t even begin to imagine how I can pay for training elsewhere. Not only will I have to come up with money for further training, but I also need to start paying off the loan I took out for ATA.
As we found out the Williams Family has been involved in scandalous closings of its businesses. They have closed their businesses and run off with the money before resulting in numerous lawsuits. A limousine services closed under “mysterious circumstances†– the employees showed up to work to find the doors closed. A travel agency, an airline, a restaurant, and three other flight schools, all closed. One school closed after a fatal accident related to poor maintenance.

The Williams Family’s suspicious business practices seem to continue. Employees have been quoted describing how they have funneled money and equipment to their subsidiary corporation Discover Air. Allegations have been made that they even funneled money to the airline that they received from the government as a bail out for the school after Gov. Bush visited the campus in spring ’02. The students can testify that the family members bought luxurious cars, houses, furnishings, and trips in the months before closing the school. And practices such as overcharging for flight time, charging for classes never offered or received, bouncing checks, padding student loans and misrepresenting the program can be attested to by almost all the students and employees. They advertised 97% hire rate when virtually no students had been hired after 9/11, and bragged about contracts and agreements with airlines that never existed. There have been numerous lawsuits by students against ATA and their history of mismanagement is indisputable.

So I am overwhelmed thinking about how to live out my dream. The Williams family, who owned ATA, nor only stole our money, they took our faith in people, and made our dreams faded away.
My family and I gave up and sacrificed so much to accomplish my dream and since the closure of ATA, I ‘m still today wondering what to do, it’s just not fair, I just tried to lived my dream and make the lives of my family and mine a little better, but thank to the William’s family, it ‘s turning worst, with no money, no education and been asked to repay $500 for the next 20 years by Key Bank.
Can someone explain me where is justice in this? do you have to be a dishonest person with no morality to be successful in this country ?. I ‘am starting to believed it.
If this story is true, I really feel for you. I hope the lawyers can get the loan off your back somehow.

Flying is not the job it used to be and I can assure you that it is only getting worse (more work, less pay, more thievery by mgt.) Don’t believe what Kit Darby and the other “salesmenâ€￾ try to tell you about how great the airline opportunities are (they make their money telling people what they want to hear).

Majors are shrinking and the regionals are growing. (And the regional jobs suck. Comair, Mesa, TSA, etc. are the wave of the future and will be the best that most pilots will ever be able to achieve. Majors are getting worse to work for and almost all of them have hundreds of pilots, if not thousands on furlough (so they will not hire for years)

I have been flying since 1985, have 6,000 PIC hours in multiengine jets, an ATP, a B-737, and several heavy jet type ratings, and flew for one of the Majors for 4 years. I, and many of my contemporaries, have been furloughed and have no expectation of ever flying for a Major again. (With my experience, and my opportunities to earn a good living elsewhere, I wouldn’t fly for anyone that pays less than a Major. I am done flying, except for my remote control airplane! But then, flying was just a good job for me and I now have better options.

[SIZE= 12pt]If you still are considering flying as a career, you really need to talk to pilots about the good and the bad to see if it is really what you want. Also don''t forget about talking to a guard or reserve pilot too. I know people that have gone to USAF pilot training as late as 36 years old with a waiver. Gaurd, Reserve. Check it out if flying a plane is what is important to you. If it was the life style that you were looking for, then forget about flying.[/SIZE]
>> Check it out if flying a plane is what is important to you. If it was the life style that you were looking for, then forget about flying.
Hey guys, you are right the lifestyle is gone, but you remember the thrill and the sweat of your first solo, being totally in awe up there? That is still the same....Yes even us stewardesses fly airplanes.
Sorry this happened to you. When I attended flight training I would only pay the school a few thousand dollars at a time. That way if they went TU, I would not be out that much money. If any flight school wants all of the money up front, and won''t make a deal with you on the payments, run like hell!
Very sorry to hear what you have gone through. I do believe that there are still more good people in life than bad but unfortunately greed and dishonesty have become more commonplace in our society than in years gone by. Don''t give up on your faith in people, the bad guys are in the minority. Your dream has been turned into a nightmare but don''t give up on it. As in the previous replies, the truth is this industry is not even remotely like it was in the past. I had the priviledge of more than 30 years in the business which included some ''not so glamorous'' jobs in the beginning followed by a dream job with a major which is no longer operating. Since then, it has been an up and down (no pun intended) life which I still would not trade for anything. Flying is a wonderful thing and operating a large machine in a safe and professional manner is something anyone comes to love although the circumstances of our employment may not be ideal. If you dream of doing it for the love of flying, go for it. With just a couple of years left to enjoy this business, I am saddened to see what has happened to our industry and the brothers and sisters of our fellowship of aviators. It will probably never be as grand a job as in the past but it is still a fine way to live. Best wishes to you and may justice prevail.
Please please just regard this experience as a business setback --- do not allow those bozos to destroy your self-esteem. Otherwise it just won''t be the bank beating you up for the next twenty years -- you''ve got to be able to be proud of yourself!

I''m not a lawyer but doesn''t anyone at KeyBank bear some responsibility for these fraudulent loans?

And next time sir remember "caveat emptor" (buyer beware!)

Good luck to you and your family sir!