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Indianapolis aviation camp attracts young pilots

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A national shortage of pilots has airlines scrambling to fill vacant jobs, but one Indianapolis man’s program for young pilots has been years in the making.

When Ryan Lynch started the Indiana ACE academy nine years ago, the goal was to get potential pilots interested in flying.

That goal is even more pressing because of the shortage. With most seasoned pilots aging out of the profession because of mandatory retirement ages, Lynch wants to get kids involved in the aviation career path at a young age to keep up with the industry’s demand. 

“The institution and the analysts say by 2036, we’re going to need about 637,000 pilots in the world to operate day-to-day operations,” said Lynch.

Lynch’s program lets kids start learning about aviation at a young age and gives them the tools to succeed in an industry that needs youth now more than ever.

“It wasn’t that hard for me. It’s more of an accelerated process. So everything that might have taken years to do, I’ve done in a week’s period of time,” said eighth-grader Kroix Teamer.

More than 100 kids between grades 3-12 are enrolled in ACE’s summer program, which provides hands-on experience for students, including eighth-grader Alex Doolittle.

“If it wasn’t for ACE Camp, I’d still be waiting to ever fly my first plane, and I wouldn’t have ever had had a flight lesson like this before. I would have never gotten any simulator time anything like that. I would have always been in the backseat of a commercial airliner. Never actually flying,” said Doolittle.

The academy also offers year-round courses, where kids can explore careers as mechanics, flight attendants and air-traffic controllers.

“We have to help our next generation behind us. Our students really need to know what it takes to be in aviation and that’s why we put the program on, so they get the exposure at that early age,” said Lynch.

Enrollment for the summer portion of the camp is still available.