No Sign Of Airola At Silver State Helicopters Bankruptcy Hearing

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A Las Vegas television station reported that Silver State Helicopters owner Jerry Airola failed to appear in federal bankruptcy court on Tuesday, disappointing nearly 200 former students who showed up hoping to confront him. Airola has kept a low profile since the once-burgeoning flight school abruptly ceased operations at its 34 nationwide locations in early February, leaving more than 2,500 trainees in the lurch and facing millions in debt. Neither Airola’s spokeswoman or his attorney responded to e-mails and phone calls from AVweb on Wednesday, but an attorney representing former students attended the hearing and told AVweb that while Airola was not legally required to appear, two former Silver State board members were there representing the debtor and provided some insight into where the case stands. “They said that they had no contact with Mr. Airola since the filing of the bankruptcy,” said attorney Peter Lown of Jonesboro, Georgia. “But the things that people really wanted to know about, like where’d the money go, they could not address.”

Several class-action lawsuits are in the works against Airola, Silver State, and the banks that made loans to students. Lown said he is negotiating with other law firms to join his case with theirs, because fighting this battle alone is going to be tough. “The bankruptcy filing complicates the case,” he said, because any class action must wait for the bankruptcy trustee to settle the thousands of claims that have already been filed. The deadline for submitting a claim is June 12.