Local academy making people’s dreams of becoming pilots come true as airlines see shortages

ATLANTA — Over the weekend, Delta Airlines canceled more than 100 flights, at least in part because of a pilot shortage.

On Monday, Delta canceled at least another 100 more.

Channel 2′s Lori Wilson spoke with some future pilots who see the situation as an opportunity.

Dr. Jim Lee developed the Aviation Academy at Landmark Christian School in Fairburn a few years ago.

“I always loved being in his class. It just fueled my ambition just to chase after it,” said Max Lyles, who is going to school to be a pilot at Emory Riddle University.

“It’s so good to have that ability to focus on one thing,” said Aliya Applin, a senior at Landmark Aviation Academy.

Recent reports of a nationwide pilot shortage have Lyles and Applin believing their flight dreams are within reach.

“That makes me want to work 10 times harder to be in that seat and to fill those shoes,” Lyles said.

Lyle’s father works for Delta in operations. Applin’s mother is a flight attendant.

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“Ever since I was a little kid, 5-years-old, I’ve always wanted to fly for Delta,” Lyles said.

“It’s good for us because maybe I can get in there and get that interview and get a job,” Applin said.

Lee was 3 years old when his father was hired as an airline computer programmer. He flew for a couple of years and then went into education.

His students asked why he never went back into the cockpit.

“I said I’m too old. I’ve been gone too long. Nobody would hire me,” Lee said.

After a 19-year hiatus, Lee is a pilot again and he got emotional talking to Wilson about it, breaking into tears.

Lee’s father got to see him accomplish his lifelong dream in his pilot’s uniform the night before he passed.

Now, he wants to pass on his dream to the next generation.

“My goal here in starting the aviation academy was to let these kids know you can do one of the most amazing jobs in the world,” Lee said.

Lee has been flying as a first captain for Republic Airlines. On June 1, he starts training for Southwest Airlines.

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