Flagler County, FL (September 10, 2022) – There are some skills you don’t want to get rusty, like driving a car or flying a plane. Helping pilots brush up on their skills after two years of COVID grinding things to a near halt, Saturday’s ‘rusty pilot’ refresher class was a chance for older pilots to catch up and students to make connections while sitting through the class led by Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Ambassador Jamie Beckett, You Can Fly instructor for the U.S east coast.
It was also a chance for Teens-In-Flight to show off their new digs.
Moving from the business complex on Airport Road, the nonprofit is literally at the airport – Flagler Executive Airport, that is, where they now have more space to teach and train according to executive director Ric Lehman.
“Here I can have someone working on the simulator, somebody briefing for a flight, I can have a class going on and flights taking off, all at the same time,” said Lehman.
Having the organization’s three planes in a hangar just steps from the main lobby’s door isn’t bad either.
“Now we literally walk through that door and there’s our planes,” he said. “It’s a whole different world. Now if I need to do something I don’t have to leave the office, go down to the flight line, it’s just so much more convenient.”
Saturday’s class gave pilots a look at the new space and an up close look at the flight school’s planes. Teens-In-Flight instructors were also on hand to chat with attendees and even schedule flights.
“These are certified pilots. Once you’re a certified pilot, you’re always a pilot, but if you’re not current, you have to get current,” explained Lehman of the ‘Rusty Pilot’ ground school refresher that drew an estimates 60 attendees.
While touring the new location before class, Beckett was impressed by the operation.
“This is the best set up for a ‘Rusty Pilot’ I’ve ever had, anywhere. This is a remarkable and I sit on the boards of two high school flying clubs,” said Beckett.
“This is so well run. They have a clear vision, a method for getting there. These kids are fantastic, the flight instructors here are very professional. I’m impressed. This is a better run outfit than a lot of existing flight schools.”
What began as a nonprofit to serve the children of service members killed in action has expanded their program to include first responders and underprivileged children and there is a wall of fame installed in the new location to share student success and inspire the next class of aspiring pilots.
“We’ve had probably one of our best years ever,” said Lehman. “We’ve done more this year than we did in the last five combined.”
Since signing on board, Lehman has helped grow the organization’s reach working in lockstep with Teens-In-Flight founder Col. Jack Howell.
“My job is to keep everything structured, keep it moving forward. Even though we’re nonprofit organization, we have to operate like a business,” said Lehman.
“If you don’t then nobody gets served. Our planes are completely paid for, that simulator in there that costs $14,000 is completely paid for, because we’ve been running like a business and we have some great people out there that support us.”
For more information on the Teens-In-Flight program, visit www.teensinflight.org.