The U.S. Small Business Administration has awarded its 2018 N.H. Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year award to a local flight school and aviation services provider.

Monadnock Aviation, Inc., owned and operated by 10-year Navy veteran Elizabeth Bendel, offers flight instruction, aircraft management, maintenance, storage and fuel at the Keene-owned Dillant-Hopkins Airport in North Swanzey. During almost a decade in business, Monadnock Aviation has grown from three to 10 employees and provided training for almost 300 recreational pilots — and several who went on to become commercial pilots, according to a news release from the Small Business Administration.

During Bendel’s decade in the U.S. Navy and Naval Reserve, she served in Japan, the Philippines and at the Pentagon as an aviation intelligence officer and was decorated with several Navy Achievement Medals and a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, according to the news release. She trained as a pilot on the P-3 Orion while stationed in the Philippines. She also earned a Master of Science in strategic intelligence during her service.

After she left the service, she served as a federal law enforcement officer, working to apprehend drug and child pornography traffickers. She moved from Florida to Keene in 2008, where she secured an agreement with the city government to provide aviation services at Dillant-Hopkins Airport, according to the release, which led to the opening of Monadnock Aviation.

Bendel will be recognized locally at the N.H. Small Business Awards event on May 2 at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford. For additional information, visit