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Silver State Helicopters Files for Bankruptcy

A former Inc. 500 company that posted $40.7 million in revenue in 2005 falls victim to the credit crunch, officials say.

A flight training school for helicopter pilots that posted over $40 million in revenue three years ago has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, blaming the recent credit crunch, company officials confirmed this week.

Silver State Helicopters, which was founded in 1999 and ranked No. 12 on the 2006 Inc. 500 list of the nation's fastest growing small businesses, ceased operations on Wednesday and closed all of its locations in more than a dozen states. The company is based in North Las Vegas, Nev.

In a letter to staff and flight students posted on its website, co-founder Jerry Airola said the company was hit hard by recent credit market turmoil.

"The entire lending industry was crippled in October and the impact hit all student lending sources particularly hard. We felt this full force." Airola said.

The school currently has some 2,500 students enrolled in flight training classes.

Jim Campbell, the editor of Aero News, an industry trade journal, blamed the company's problems on supply and demand.

"They were touting an unlimited need for helicopter pilots," Campbell said. "The market that they promised never existed."

The company was also involved in a costly lawsuit stemming from a helicopter accident in Jacksonville, Florida last year.


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the company's corporate headquarters.

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