INDIANAPOLIS — Lift Academy is not only working to meet the needs in a world with a global pilot shortage, but the program also seeks to put more women in the cockpit.
Lift Academy is an aviation training facility owned and operated by Republic Airways.
"There's a global pilot shortage right now, and that was really the concept of how our flight school became in existence," says Lauren Gaudion with Republic Airways.
Lift Academy first opened doors in Indy last year. Since then, more than 209 students are flying with them, and six students are currently in the aviation maintenance program.
The program hosted its first big event called Lift Off - Females Who Fly. It is a leadership summit where middle and high school students meet with female pilots and airline executives to learn more about opportunities within the industry and build confidence.
"Being our first event, we weren't sure what kind of response we would get, but we have more than 50 girls here today," says Gaudion. "We are just excited to bring diversity and bring females into the industry too.
Bringing diversity into the cockpit is more than just building a larger pilot pool. By having diversity in aviation, we are able to broaden our idea-scope."
With the global pilot shortage, getting more females interested in aviation could help bridge the gap.
"I'm sure that the majority of individuals that fly will notice that there aren't a lot of females in the cockpit," says Gaudion. "In fact, only 8 percent of U.S. airline pilots are females, so today it's our opportunity to do what we can to change that."
One female pilot student in attendance is Jacqueline Lux.
The recent college graduate has a degree in Political Science and has aspirations of becoming a lawyer.
After earning her bachelor's degree, Lux landed her first job post-college and spent her free time applying to law schools.
She says it was a frustrating time. She had a degree but couldn't reach her career goals without going back to school for another degree.
That's when she came across Lift Academy.
She went in with zero experience and zero hours of flying a year ago.
"I got the application. And I was like, why. I don't know if I would be good at it. I have no idea," says Lux. "So then I went on a discovery flight after I applied, and I loved it."
Lux now has her commercial license and is still training to become a flight instructor for Lift Academy.
"After I flew, I was just, I loved it," says Lux. "I was like, this is what I want to do. I would love this career. And I knew that from day one. And now I fly over my hometown, and I look down, and I'm like, wow. Just a year ago, I had never known I would be able to do this."
Lux attended the summit to talk with other young girls and encourage them and also so that they could see other females in the industry.
"Maybe that's one of the reasons there is a pilot shortage because women haven't been encouraged to, and I mean that's 50 percent of the country," says Lux. "That's a lot of workforces that the industry is missing. I think if we get more women involved, the pilot shortage will be a pilot surplus."
Lift Academy provides resources and opportunities to make the journey to becoming a pilot achievable. It takes some less than two years to get a job after starting this training program.
If you are interested in learning more about Lift Academy, you can stop by the hanger for a facility tour and try out their virtual reality experience at several local career fairs.
You can also learn more by going to flywithlift.com.