SAVOY, Ill., (WCIA) — The Institute of Aviation at Parkland College is teaching and preparing the next generation of pilots. Students study and fly year-round at the Institute of Aviation with Willard Airport in Savoy. 

These students will help with the national pilot shortage on cargo and commercial flights. This is just one of the factors playing a role in nationwide cancellations and delays. 

“We are only a small part of the solution and of course, the solution to a pilot shortage is to make more pilots,” Jon Moore, the director of the Institute of Aviation, said.

Student pilots go through ground training in flight simulators, but also flight training in the air. They work one-on-one or in small groups with various instructors, many of which were once students in the program. 

Emily Plauck, a student pilot, said she normally starts her day with ground training. They break down maneuvers, discuss airport operations and aerodynamics. All things she said will make them “knowledgeable, well-equipped pilots to be able to fly.”

John Kolis, one of Plauck’s instructors, started pilot classes at Parkland while still in high school. Now, he is a flight instructor gaining flight hours to eventually become a cargo pilot like his dad. 

“People need to get places, cargo needs to get places. Without that, we do have a problem with supply chain demand. It helps prevent that, it helps the economy flowing and the world going,” Kolis said. 

He also said both classroom and hands-on instruction are key parts to becoming a pilot. 

“You can’t just have the flight part, you have to have ground training in order to be a safe, educated pilot to make good decisions,” Kolis said. 

Not all pilots end up flying for major airlines. Moore said many pilots that graduated from this program now fly cargo, commercial, corporate and crop-dusting planes. Some become flight instructors. 

Moore said that there are more than 6,500 Institute of Aviation graduates flying around the world. 

The program has gradually increased in the past eight years, growing from about 20 to about 100 students.