The organization, which offers free flight training to disadvantaged teens and to the children and siblings of service members and first responders, raised $30,703 at a fundraiser Aug. 10.
Teens-In-Flight, the local nonprofit which provides free flight training to the teenage family members of military service member or first responders and to teens at risk, is expanding its offerings: It will now offer reduced-cost flight lessons to the general public.
Teens-in-Flight Founder Jack Howell and Executive Director Ric Lehman made the announcement at Teens-In-Flight's annual Hangar Party on Aug. 10, telling an audience of about 133 people who'd turned out at the Palm Coast Elks Lodge for the organization's fundraiser that the expansion will provide below-market-rate lessons to students from the general public, while generating additional money to provide free training to disadvantaged students and students with family members who are first responders or service members.
Training additional pilots will help serve a growing need, Lehman said.
"We know that there's going to be a pilot shortage," Lehman said. Experts are predicting shortages of as many as 475,000 pilots over the next 10 years, he said, and, with the creation of a U.S. Space Force, demand will likely grow even more. "There's a great opportunity for these kids," he said. Although the expanded program offerings will focus on youths, he said, there is not an age limit.
Teens-In-Flight has been seeing rising student pass rates and 80%-85% completion rates from its young pilots, and is aiming for 90% completion rates, Lehman said. Meanwhile, flight hours have increased: The organization has solo'ed five pilots and issued three licenses to students through July of this year, while its costs have decreased by about 30%.
Teens-In-Flight is now using three planes — it owns a Cessna 150, has purchased a Piper Archer, and is leasing a Cessna 172 — and has moved into new offices at the county airport.
It costs about $7,700 for Teens-In-Flight to train students through their license, Lehman said, while the out-of-pocket cost on the regular market would be between about $12,000 and $14,000.
The Aug. 10 event, which featured dinners for $59 per person (or $99 per couple), plus raffles and dancing, raised $30,703, surpassing the total from the previous year, Lehman said.