John and Martha King´s use of technology and clear, simple, and fun teaching have made aviation knowledge more accessible to pilots throughout the world.
After a dismal failure in a business for which they did not have a passion, John and Martha King decided to relax and indulge their love of flying for a while. In the early 1970s, they began teaching flying to mark time while looking for a "serious business." After teaching live seminars for over a decade they put their courses on video and began to revolutionize the flight training industry.
Today their company, King Schools, Inc which started in a spare bedroom in the Kings´ house, operates out of a dedicated complex in San Diego, California that includes a video and software production facility.
Over more than 40 years, King Schools has delivered many millions of courses to pilots in training. Through intimate video instruction John and Martha King have taught more pilots than anyone in the history of aviation—for many years teaching more than half the pilots in the United States learning to fly. It's no surprise that pilots throughout the world know John and Martha and regard them as their personal aviation mentors.
King Schools continues to transform pilot training by pioneering the development of multimedia training programs on many aviation subjects including ground-breaking programs on aviation risk management.
Through the years, the Kings have retained their enthusiasm for flying. They fly their own Dassault Falcon 10 jet wherever they go, swapping captain and copilot duties on each leg. They have flown as pilots in every continent of the world except Antarctica, including a trip completely around the world via the length of Russia.
In 2022, John and Martha accomplished another of their goals and released their book LIFT, sharing how they pursued their passion for flying by starting their business of teaching pilots. (see more)
John and Martha became the first and only husband and wife to both hold every category and class of FAA pilot and instructor certificates.
In September of 1994 John and Martha became the first and only couple to both hold every category and class of FAA rating on their pilot and instructor certificates. Martha is the only woman to achieve this complete ratings sweep. They remain active in many categories, regularly flying everything from jets to piston airplanes and helicopters. They have enjoyed periodically serving as back-up pilots for the Fujifilm blimp. They have flown the blimp over such events as the Kentucky Derby, the Davis Cup, the Super Bowl, the U.S. Open tennis tournament, and the Experimental Aircraft Association convention at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Their airship adventures have been part of national television coverage on the Fox, ESPN, CBS, and USA networks.
The Kings appear frequently on national TV as aviation experts. They also have starred in numerous video presentations on Microsoft´s Flight Simulator program providing instruction for the "Getting Started" Wizard and for numerous informational topics. Plus, they were featured on CNN's "Business Unusual."
John and Martha have been champions for the cause of improving the risk management practices of general aviation pilots and they speak to thousands of pilots each year on aviation safety. They work with the FAA's National Aviation Safety Program in producing safety videos. They also volunteer their time to speak to college classes on starting a small business.
For many years both John and Martha served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Air and Space Museum. They are both currently on the Board of the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation and John was previously the Chairman. Martha was formerly the Chair of the Chancellor´s Community Advisory Board of the University of California, San Diego.
Awards and Honors
- 2022 Martha awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the FAA for having demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for more than 50 years. Her commemorative plaque was presented to her at AirVenture 2022 by FAA Administrator Billy Nolen, who told the audience he had taken multiple courses from Martha. John received his Master Pilot Award in 2014, and it is thought that John and Martha are the only couple to both have received the Master Pilot Award which is referred to as the most prestigious award the FAA issues to pilots. (see more)
- 2021 John and Martha jointly inducted into the Flight Instructor Hall of Fame. Its purpose is to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to aviation education and flight instruction while reflecting credit upon themselves and their profession. (see more)
- 2019 John and Martha jointly enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) Class of 2019. Each year, the NAHF selects 5 or 6 inductees from a prestigious group of over 300 previously-nominated air and space pioneers to be recognized for their achievements during what is described as "The Oscar Night of Aviation." Their joint selection as husband-and-wife is unprecedented. (see more)
- 2019 John and Martha jointly inducted into the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Founders and Pioneers Hall of Fame, in recognition of their life-long dedication to making aviation accessible to all. (see more)
- 2019 John and Martha jointly received the Jack J. Eggspuehler Award from the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI). This award honors individuals or organizations that have made a significant contribution to flight instructors, flight instruction or aviation education.
- 2019 John and Martha jointly chosen as one of "Eight Who Made It Great—the most inspirational personalities in general aviation" —based on an online survey of AOPA members. The others named were Bob Hoover, John Glenn, Chuck Yeager, Burt Rutan, Elrey Jeppesen, Paul Poberezny, and Bill Lear. (see more)
- 2018 John and Martha jointly presented the Distinguished Statesman of Aviation award by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The award honors outstanding living Americans who, by their efforts over an extended period of years, have made contributions of significant value to aeronautics, and have reflected credit upon America and themselves. (see more)
- 2018 Martha appointed jointly by the Secretary of the Air Force and the national commander of the Civil Air Patrol to the Board of Governors. Founded on Dec. 1, 1941, to help protect the nation's shorelines from German U-boats, the CAP has evolved into a premier public service organization utilizing over 560 general aviation airplanes. (see more)
- 2017 John and Martha jointly awarded the Crystal Eagle Award by the Aero Club of Northern California in honor of their significant contributions to the advancement of aviation. Previous awardees include Jimmy Doolittle, Chuck Yeager, Stanley Hiller, Bill Lear, Eileen Collins, and Julie Clark. (see more)
- 2017 Martha received the Women in Leadership award from the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce. The award is presented to San Diego County residents who have demonstrated exemplary character, integrity and outstanding leadership, not only in their field, but in their community. (see more)
- 2015 John and Martha jointly awarded the Pinnacle Award by the Flight School Association of North America for their years of service to the general aviation industry.
- 2014 Martha King was selected by the Ohio School Board Association as a Proud Product of Ohio Public Schools, a graduate who has achieved great success in their chosen field. (see more)
- 2014 John awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award by the FAA for having demonstrated professionalism, skill and aviation expertise for more than 50 years. (see more)
- 2014 John and Martha jointly awarded the Sword of Honour by The Honourable Company of Air Pilots for outstanding contributions to general aviation. The presentation was made by His Royal Highness, The Prince Michael of Kent, in the ancient Guildhall of London. (see more)
- 2014 John and Martha jointly honored by Tomorrows Aeronautical Museum with the "Inspiring and Educating Aviators" award.
- 2014 John named by AOPA Pilot magazine as one of 24 "General Aviation Giants" whose "contributions influence the way we fly and think about flying." (see more)
- 2012 John and Martha jointly awarded the prestigious Frank G. Brewer Trophy for Aviation Education by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) for their significant contributions of enduring value to aerospace education by making aviation knowledge more accessible to pilots worldwide. (see more)
- 2012 John and Martha jointly awarded the IAOPA Service Award for Excellence in Aviation Safety and Pilot Training Education by the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations at the 26th World Assembly, Cape Town, South Africa
- 2012 John and Martha both named Living Legends of Aviation in an exciting evening in Beverly Hills sponsored by the Kiddie Hawk Air Academy, joining a short list of aviation luminaries including Bob Hoover, Clay Lacy, Harrison Ford, Morgan Freeman, Kurt Russell, Tom Cruise and "Sully" Sullenberger. (see more)
- 2011 Martha named Chairman of the Chancellor's Community Advisory Board, University of California San Diego. The board is composed of citizens of the community interested in fostering positive and productive relationships between UC San Diego and the community at-large. (see more)
- 2010 Martha inducted into the Fairborn (Ohio) Schools Hall of Honor, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of graduates of Fairborn Schools. (see more)
- 2009 John and Martha jointly awarded the American Spirit Award by the National Business Aviation Association. This award is presented in recognition of individuals within business aviation who exemplify the courage and pursuit of excellence and service to others that characterizes the men and women who created and nurtured the American aviation community. (see more)
- 2008 John and Martha inducted as a couple into the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. They joined famous aviation pioneers such as the Wright Brothers, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, Jack Northrop, William Boeing, Reuben H. Fleet, Glenn Curtiss, Wally Schirra, T. Claude Ryan, and Jimmy Doolittle Jr. (see more)
- 2008 John and Martha each receive the prestigious Lowell Thomas award from the Explorers Club. This award is named for Explorers Club member Lowell Thomas, the journalist whose news reports introduced "Lawrence of Arabia"—T.E. Lawrence—to the Western public and is given to honor men and women who have distinguished themselves in the field of exploration. John and Martha were recognized for their work in making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration. (see more)
- 2008 John and Martha each are elected as Fellows of the Explorers Club in New York City for their contributions to the cause of exploring by making aviation accessible as a tool for exploration throughout the world.
- 2008 John and Martha jointly receive the Vision Award from Business & Commercial Aviation. Other 2008 recipients include Michimasa Fujino, CEO of Honda Aircraft Co and the driving force behind the Honda Jet, and Paul Bowen, the inspirationally artistic aviation air-to-air photographer.
- 2008 John and Martha jointly receive the Forrest M. and Pamela Bird award by the Civil Aviation Medical Association for "...exceptional contributions to the safety of civil aviation as pilots and educators through exercising excellent judgment, logic and common sense in evaluation and training of civil pilots through the years". (see more)
- 2007 John and Martha receive honorary Paul Tissandier Diplomas from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), in Lausanne, Switzerland, for serving the cause of general aviation through "their work, initiative, and devotion".
- 2007 John named Chairman of the Board of The Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. John and Martha both serve on the board. The Foundation, established in 1977 through the leadership of Neil Armstrong and Jimmy Doolittle, strives to improve the quality of human life by inspiring a balance between technology and our environment. (see more)
- 2005 Martha awarded the prestigious Cliff Henderson Award for Achievement from the National Aeronautic Association. This annual award is presented to "a living individual or group whose vision, leadership, or skill has made a significant and lasting contribution to the promotion and advancement of aviation or space activity." Previous recipients include Jimmy Doolittle, Roscoe Turner, General Curtis LeMay, Frank Borman, Scott Crossfield, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, and Ernest K. Gann. (see more)
- 2004 John and Martha were each presented with "Master Air Pilot" awards in recognition of long service and consistently high standards by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in a ceremony presided over by His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew, Duke of York, in the ancient Guildhall of London.
- 2004 John received the 2004 "Excellence in Pilot Training" award from the National Air Transportation Association. (see more)
- 2003 Martha named one of the "100 Most Influential Women in Aviation" by Women in Aviation International. (see more)
- 2003 Martha honored as one of the 100 Distinguished Aviation Heroes in the first century of flight by the First Flight Centennial Commission. At Kitty Hawk on December 16, 2003, Martha shared this honor with Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Chuck Yeager, John Glenn and Patty Wagstaff and 15 others of the 32 recipients still living. (see more)
- 2003 Martha honored by a resolution of the California Assembly and a proclamation from the Governor of California as the EAA chose Martha to fly the state flag to Kitty Hawk for the First Flight Centennial. (see more)
- 2002 Kings inducted into the International Forest of Friendship, for contributions to aviation. The International Forest of Friendship is located in Atchison, Kansas, hometown of Amelia Earhart.
- 2001 Martha appointed by President Clinton to First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board to help promote celebrations of the 100th anniversary of flight.
- 1996 Kings named "Aviation Educators of the Year" by Professional Pilot Magazine.