Sling Pilot Academy Settles Business License Spat With Torrance


Sling Pilot Academy has settled a legal battle with the city of Torrance, California, after the city tried to use a dormant 1977 council resolution to kick the school out of the local airport. In January, California State Court Judge Curtis Kin sided with Sling and issued first a temporary restraining order and then a temporary injunction forcing the city to renew Sling’s business license. Without the court actions, the school would have been forced to close, putting 90 employees out of work and interrupting the training of 200 students.

The city tried to cancel the license for 2024 based on a 1977 resolution by the council at the time restricting the number of flight schools at the airport to six. That resolution was never made an ordinance, however, and the judge issued the restraining order in December. In January, the city tried to resurrect the motion and ordinance procedure and the judge sided with Sling again, this time issuing the injunction.

Sometime after the injunction was issued, Sling said that there was then “some movement regarding businesses registered as flight schools” at the airport and the city decided Sling had become one of the six schools allowed. The city approached the school about a deal and on April 12 Sling agreed to drop the court case and a complaint to the FAA as part of a settlement agreement. Sling said it “remains committed to working with the City of Torrance and the residents surrounding the airport” in part by adopting noise reduction measures.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.


  1. The State of Kalyfornya is hell bent to drive business elsewhere 🙁
    90 employees is nothing to sneeze at.

    • On the other hand Larry, a liberal judge, part of a liberal judicial system, ruled in favor of a flight school over a city, Torrance, filled with liberal, woke citizens. Doesn’t that give you any hope for the future of California?

    • Absolutely, it’s downright disgusting! The City of Torrance tried to use an old, dormant resolution from 1977 to kick Sling Pilot Academy out of the local airport. This is bureaucratic overreach at its worst, endangering the jobs of 90 employees and the education of 200 students. Thankfully, the courts intervened and stopped this blatant injustice. It’s a clear reminder of how absurd and manipulative city actions can sometimes be.

  2. And out of six flight schools, I would think Sling, using Rotax engines, would be one of the more “quieter” operations.

  3. I’ve been to Sling twice and have flown with them for articles in AOPA Pilot. Just want to add a word of support: I found them to be a terrific school run by terrific people. Glad the school survived what appears to be a Terrible Torrance city council.

  4. I have to wonder how it got to this point. City of Torrance had to know going in of Sling’s intentions to run a flight school, and something along the line caused the adversarial relationship. The Torrance response sure sounds like CYA, and if there’s one thing government at most any level has demonstrated lately, it’s that they don’t care about no stinkin’ laws if that’s the path they choose. I would think Sling is looking around for a possible new location because I doubt if the City Attorney’s advice on this one will make the City stop trying to get their way.

    • The “will of the people” is what this is about.
      The local residents have been pissing and moaning about the usual things …… aircraft noise, the worry of a plane crash off airport, and “belching lead over the community” (which is the buss inherited from Santa Monica and also used at Reid-Hillview). Thus, the council is responding to the “will of the people”, being the local voters who have been easily assembled through social media to complain.
      The hostility of the city council and airport staff is subtle, but present. The hangar rents are double what they are at nearby airports, for example, they now assess a landing fee of $3 per 1000 lbs of gross weight, and prohibit touch and goes, requiring full stop and taxi back to what has become a congested run up area. All of this is designed to make owners and pilots leave the airport, but the local demand for hangar space is overwhelming due to KSNA squeezing owners out of the county hangars and KSMO closing very soon.

  5. Definitely more back story to this situation. I’d agree that it is probably noise complaint centered.

    But it does prove that California is not a hospitable environment for GA.

    Just another great reason to never spend another dime in the People’s Republic of California.

  6. I cannot imagine why any company in the current business climate, that would seriously do business in California. There are many business friendly states that would love to have a flight school such as Sling in their state. Sling- you should seriously consider telling Torrence and the communist state of California to go pound sand

    • But, JB, that’s what the city council wants. The council voted a few years ago to close the airport, despite Robinson Helicopter being there. While they strategize, they are being hostile to tenants and pilots through excessive and costly fees, inspections, and rules that tease and annoy. If they can “persuade” tenants to leave they can say that diminished demand requires closure and redevelopment. Already there is a very large retail center on the north side of the airport with a Lowe’s and Home Depot and lots of small retail and restaurants, and an Acura car dealership — all of these uses develop retail tax of which 1% goes to the city so the council has a double motive of responding to local resident complaints and a desire for more sales tax and property tax dollars. The motive is quite clear.