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Minnesota school looks to ease pilot shortage

Academy College in Bloomington has 200 future pilots enrolled in their aviation program.

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Academy College in Bloomington is putting up some impressive numbers for graduates.

"We have 100 percent placement, when students come out of the pilot program they already have a job," said Nancy Grazzini-Olson, president of Academy College.

Students earning their bachelor's Degrees and associate degrees in aviation are in high demand with the current pilot shortage that has worsened because of the pandemic.

"We found our enrollments were going really sky high because people thought that we should get back into pilot training and they were wondering what the future was. We knew the future was that when we got done with COVID we would need pilots and that's exactly what's happening," said Grazzini-Olson.

Recent graduate Mark Mihalovic spent nearly a decade in the health and wellness industry before going back to school to pursue his passion of flying during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Credit: Mark Mihalovic

"My uncle is a captain for UPS. He's the only [one] that's been helping me along here and he kept telling me week after week that we need pilots and everyone is looking for pilots right now. So, I've known for the past year or so with the pandemic that it's not going away," said Mihalovic, who is now a flight instructor with Thunderbird Aviation.

Credit: Mark Mihalovic

Maxwell Berry just started his aviation career at Academy College and says he was a little nervous choosing his new career path during the pandemic but is now all in.

"Knowing that there's going to be always going to be a need in the next two years is really comforting to know and it makes going through all of this even more worth it," said Berry.

He's taking advantage of the veteran's GI Bill program. Academy College is one of the few aviation schools that allows this in the country.

Barry's goal after earning his degree is to be soaring in the sky with his brother who is already working as a captain with Sun Country.

There are currently 200 students working toward their degrees at Academy College in Bloomington.

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