LEXINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Two Piedmont Triad natives are opening a flight school in Davidson County to teach the next generation of pilots.
The Elite Flight Academy held its grand opening Thursday at the Davidson County Airport in Lexington.
The training involves two parts. First, students have to crack open the books and pass a few tests. Then they can learn to fly aircraft. Twenty students are already taking the academy’s classes. The owners hope to enroll hundreds more.
“We’re trying to get more people in the industry, more people interested,” said Corey Johnson, operations manager of the flight school. “One, to meet that shortage…two just because it’s a fun industry to be in.”
Fewer people are pursuing careers in aviation, creating a pilot shortage across the globe.
“If there’s no pilots, then there’s no flights,” Johnson said.
Aviation experts predict the U.S. will be short 19,000 pilots globally by the end of 2022. Travelers might already feel the effects.
“Flights are getting postponed, delayed, rescheduled,” Johnson said. “There’s not enough pilots to fill those slots, those routes.”
Johnson and his partner Roy Morgan are working to change that. The two opened the Elite Flight Academy. It comes at a good time as the commercial jet manufacturer Boom Supersonic prepares to begin production in Greensboro by 2024.
“All the way up to where you have your private, your instrument, your commercial, working on your multi-engine, getting instructor’s rating,” Morgan said. “Everything you need to prepare yourself to make aviation a career.”
The academy offers hands-on experience from a flight simulator to actual aircraft. It’s all used to get your 40 hours of training required for a pilot’s license.
“We are a non-towered airport here at Davidson County, which allows the students an opportunity of practicing more and being up in the air,” Morgan said.
Centrally located between Charlotte and Raleigh, the academy allows students to experience flying at different sized airports and puts Lexington on the map.
“With the addition of a few other entities on the field in addition to Elite, it’s good because it indicates growth for the airport,” said Jack Robertson, the fixed base operator manager at the Davidson County Airport.
The academy’s owners want people of all backgrounds to be able to pursue careers in aviation. That’s why they will offer a scholarship every year to one high school student interested in becoming a pilot.