SPRINGFIELD, Mo — Premier Flight School and Ozarks Technical Community College are celebrating their 2nd anniversary this month.
The program began with just 4 students back in 2016, currently have nearly 50 enrolled, and as many as 75 could be in the program within the next year.
The growing trend comes at a time when many airlines could face shortages due to mandatory retirement ages for seasoned pilots.
“They always get the giggles whenever they first take off. You can see them start laughing, saying ‘this is so awesome!’,” explained Austin Pippin.
Consider him a boarding pass. He’s been giving people their wings for a year and a half as an Assistant Chief Flight Instructor.
“Our goal is not to just make a safe pilot and a competent pilot, but to make a professional pilot. Someone that doesn’t have a steep learning curve because we have given them the training beforehand.”
Premiere Flight Center is the exclusive flight vendor for Ozarks Technical Community College; An associates degree based right here at the Springfield Branson National Airport.
The partnership has purchased a fleet of 8 planes, and now includes a completely renovated space near General Aviation.
The space includes a state of the art flight simulator, costing around $80,000 new and installed. The machine simulates everything from weather conditions to engine failures, and even to emergency landings.
Students do quite a bit of training in this simulator, however most of it is done up in the air.
Sarah Tindell is a college level freshman in the program. She plans on going into air traffic control.
It’s a certification offered around the country, but one that she found being grounded in her hometown.
She explained why she chose to stay in Springfield. “The airport director will just come in from time to time just to check up on the students. It makes you feel that people care. We just have a great environment around us.”