Once Regan Lezotte completed Crosswinds Aviation’s high school flight program and then earned her private pilot’s license, she knew her next move was to share the excitement by becoming a flight instructor.
“Teaching is awesome because I’m taking my passion and bringing it to somebody else,” said Lezotte. “I can open up new worlds to them. (At Crosswinds) I’ve seen a lot, I’ve experienced a lot and it’s fun knowing we’re training the next generation of pilots.”
“Once you get into the air, that’s when the fun starts to happen.”
Matt Dahline, owner of Crosswinds Aviation and a 20-year pilot, said the look on students faces the first time they are in the air and at the controls of an aircraft is the inspiration behind the flight school.
“They love it, and that fascination with flying takes another step,” he said. “It’s about the smiles on their faces and opening up opportunities to them.”
“We are passionate about exposing as many kids to aviation, and we are committed to helping to make a positive impact on the aviation industry’s pilot shortage by producing as many qualified pilots as possible.”
“We know that any committed high school student looking to get into the aviation can do it. It takes dedication, hard work and a passion for the skies.”
Crosswinds high school programs, which are open to juniors and seniors, are available at Livingston County, Oakland County International and Bishop International airports. Students from high schools in Livingston and Genesee counties, where Crosswinds has partnerships, typically spend a majority of their day at their home school and then two hours at Crosswinds for ground and flight instruction over two consecutive semesters.
“We love partnering with our local schools and communities and showing the students the future flying provides,” Dahline said.
Crosswinds instructors prepare pilots with a firm base of flying fundamentals that launch a lifetime of success in aviation, either as a professional or recreational pilot. The curriculum readies students to complete their written exam while also providing:
- Exposure to many aspects of the aviation industry
- Meet with industry experts
- Free 10 hours of simulator time per student ($250 value)
- Computer-based ground training ($200 value)
- EAA will reimburse students that take and pass FAA written exam ($150 value)
Commercial airline pilot Ryan Lawrence got his start at Crosswinds after enrolling in the high school program as a senior. He and his parents scouted various flight schools and determined the modern fleet of aircraft and the family atmosphere at Crosswinds was the perfect fit.
“It was a no-brainer,” Lawrence said. “Earning my private pilot license was the best head start I could possibly get. The instructor set me up for success. It was a professional environment and learning experience the entire time. It was very one-on-one, and it was great every time we went up for a flight and every time we met in the classroom.”
Now, Lawrence looks around airports and sees the industry’s growth threatened by a shortage of available pilots prepared to replace a wave of veterans who will soon be hanging up their wings. He knows Crosswinds can change the trajectory of students’ futures.
“If you’re interested in aviation, now is the time to get started,” said Lawrence, who is flying regionally and plans on becoming a captain. “At Crosswinds, everything is laid out for you and there’s a great support system to show you how to get to where you want to be.
“Crosswinds was able to help me make my dream of being a career pilot come true.”