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READY FOR TAKE OFF? Immokalee flight school trains pilots in demand across the nation

Posted at 9:57 PM, Jan 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-19 21:57:56-05

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — Ronald Jones, "RJ", is a flight instructor at Global Flight Training Solutions at the Immokalee Regional Airport.

He helps students with online training, in the field going through the check list before take off and during flight up in the sky.

RJ said, "I've had a passion for it ever since my grandpa took me up in a little by plane."

Like other flight instructors at the school, when RJ teaches, he also puts in the hours to be an airline pilot.

"I do want to go to the airlines, eventually, when I have enough hours," Jones said. He mentioned he only needs around 600 more hours.

Here in Immokalee, there's plenty of space to get cleared for takeoff.

"You can pretty much fly whenever you want, so it's really nice and a comfortable area to fly," Jones said.

Tom Brown manages the flight school. He's also a veteran, retired Air Force pilot.

Brown said, "You probably wouldn't expect a flight school in Immokalee."

The area is known for agriculture, but flying whenever and the space to spread the plane's wings makes Immokalee a place to earn those wings.

"Immokalee of course being out of the way from some of the busy areas, like Fort Myers or Naples. We're actually in a better training environment," Brown said.

He continued, "Flight schools are busy now and that's the reason because airlines, a lot of them, are retiring."

The Federal Aviation Administration said they saw a decrease in airline transport pilot certificates from 2020 to 2021.

In a statement to Fox 4, they said,

"We know we must think differently about recruiting the next generation…Last year, the FAA awarded $5 million in grants to fund aviation classes at high schools to develop the next generation of pilots."
Federal Aviation Administration

While Global Flight Training Solutions has students from Ireland and Iceland, they also recruit from right here in Immokalee at the local high school.

Helping more people reach their dreams and new heights.