Lakeland also continues to offer Part 61 certification, which features fewer classroom hours but requires more flight time. This option is most viable for non-degree-seeking students or non-Lakeland students who want to work through Lakeland toward a private or commercial license.
The Lakeland program features two state-of-the-art Cirrus SR20 aircraft, both of which include advanced aircraft with glass cockpits and Cirrus Aircraft Parachute Systems (CAPS).
“These are the sports cars of aircraft,” Molina said.
Lakeland’s program is alone in the state in offering its aviation degree as a minor. Students are encouraged to major in business, information technology or communications, for example, then add the aviation minor. Molina said employers seeking pilots, prefer this approach because it makes their young pilots more versatile and procedure trained.
Graduates of Lakeland’s program will earn multi- and single-engine commercial ratings, on top of instrument rating. The minor is 31 credit hours, and students will accrue flight time starting with their first AVN flight class.
“Our students’ lab is the sky,” Molina said, noting that 16 of the 31 credit hours required for the minor involve flight time.
Molina instructed 17 students last academic school year. An additional eight students joined the program this fall and Lakeland hired a second full-time instructor, Steve Vaught, assistant chief flight instructor. Vaught taught Lakeland’s high school summer program to five students for college credit.
The emergence and rapid growth of Lakeland’s program – which operates out of the modern Lakeland Aviation Center at the Sheboygan County Airport – comes at a good time for its students. The airline industry at large faces an alarming shortage of pilots in the coming years as large numbers of pilots are near retirement age.
According to published reports, regional airlines are now offering signing bonuses, and Boeing has projected that nearly half-a-million new commercial pilots will be needed over the next two decades.