DANVILLE – Flight training is returning to the Vermilion Regional Airport.
Steve Foster, airport board member, operated a fixed-base flight school at the airport, but sold the business in 1995.
The Vermilion Regional Airport Authority Board of Commissioners this week voted to allow Midwest Aircraft Services to operate flight training at the airport located on North Bowman Avenue.
“It’s aircraft rental and flight instruction,” said Airport Manager Mike Potter of his wife Tracey’s business.
Tracey said they’ll have two aircraft to rent and independent flight instructors.
Tracey is a licensed mechanic and also still manages the airport in Morehead, Ky.
“We have kids who also help out down there,” she said, adding that she’ll continue to manage as long as they make it work both here and there.
Tracey Potter said flight instruction is the way to go to get the community involved and get new people involved in aviation.
Mike Potter said they have a fixed-base operation at the airport and normally it does maintenance and flight instruction at an airport.
“I talked with him to see if he wanted to pursue that and if he was interested in doing it. He really wasn’t,” Mike Potter said, adding that Tracey could have helped him set it up.
Potter said the board’s approval was to not be in conflict of the operator already at the airport. He said they received the board’s blessing.
He said the board was interested in seeing flight instruction return. The board is exploring options to bring more people and business back to the airport.
“We haven’t worked out the details,” Mike Potter said about the hangers to use and other details.
He said basically he knew what the board wanted to see happen and he wanted to get the ball rolling.
“I knew that’s what they wanted,” Mike Potter said.
They will have two airplanes and a third one coming from Kentucky.
Mike Potter has already been teaching three people, from Danville, Oakwood and Rossville, to fly in the evenings after work.
There also are five other students lined up with another flight instructor as soon as an airplane was available here, Potter said.
He’s hoping to get more flight instructors lined up before they “get overwhelmed.”
Potter said a person must be 16 years old to fly solo, 17 years old to get a license and 18 to get a commercial license. For a glider, a 14-year-old can receive a license.
“I’ve flown with as young as 12- and 13-year-olds,” he said of dual flight instruction.
It can cost $6,000 to $7,000 to get a license, Potter said, adding that most students also reach 50-60 hours of flight time above the 40 minimum hours needed.
“We think it’s a real good start,” Foster said about the flight training interest here.
“It’s good to do the training in the evenings,” Foster said. “It’s great to get something like that going.”
“We’re going in the right direction,” he said of the airport.
Airport officials also are working with the state, city and county on economic development ideas.