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FAA makes flying easier, less expensive for Iowa Lakes Aviation graduates

July 3, 2017

A recent decision by the Federal Aviation Administration could potentially save graduates of the Iowa Lakes Aviation/Airport Management program thousands of dollars and several months of flight experience before they can fly as airline pilots.

The new FAA “reduced aeronautical experience” airline pilot certificate can now be granted to Iowa Lakes aviation Associate of Applied Science graduates who earn just 1,250 flight hours of flying experience instead of 1,500 hours, which has been a requirement since 2009. 

The recent decision was based on the standards of the Iowa Lakes curriculum.

Jordan Grauer, of Cherokee, is the first Iowa Lakes Aviation/Airport Management student to take advantage of the rule change.

In addition to the savings of time and money, there is also the advantage of seniority, which is based on the date a pilot is hired by an airline. That seniority can make a difference in both income and advancement. 

Jordan Grauer stands with his favorite airplane in the Iowa Lakes Community College fleet — a CubCrafters Sport Cub. Grauer said the plane offers a sense of freedom and an amazing view in almost every direction.Jordan Grauer stands with his favorite airplane in the Iowa Lakes Community College fleet — a CubCrafters Sport Cub. Grauer said the plane offers a sense of freedom and an amazing view in almost every direction.

“Three months less flight time could mean the world in seniority — going in earlier, getting more seniority, and getting more paid time,” Grauer said.

“It’s a win all the way around for everybody — the students, Iowa Lakes, and the airlines,” said Robert Leifeld, executive dean of the Estherville campus, where the flight program is based.

After receiving the final approval from the FAA in mid-June, Leifeld said that he spent about two months working with the FAA to have the Iowa Lakes curriculum certified under the program. 

“(It’s) a fabulous advantage and opportunity for aviation students at Iowa Lakes,” Leifeld said. “The Aviation/Airport Management program will now be able to get pilots into commercial aviation sooner at a time where the field is constantly hiring.”

Assistant Professor Ron Duer, co-coordinator of the program and chief flight instructor, expects many other current students and recent graduates to apply for the reduced requirement as well. 

“It’s a great advantage for the aviation program and will help get pilots into commercial aviation sooner, with less expense of time and money,” Duer said.

The Iowa Lakes Community College fleet currently includes eight planes.The Iowa Lakes Community College fleet currently includes eight planes.

Young pilots will also be getting paid to build their hours and seniority in the right seat as first officers, functioning as co-pilots. 

“I praise the FAA for coming with this opportunity and for granting us our certification. It’s a fantastic opportunity,” Leifeld said. “I can’t come up with a word to put enough emphasis on how positive an outlook this is for the aviation industry, for businesses, for Iowa Lakes graduates and future students, and the airlines, too.”

“Any of our aviation program graduates who have completed the program with the necessary certificates can apply for this and be certified in a matter of days, usually within 24 hours,” Duer added.

Grauer, a 2011 graduate of Washington High School in Cherokee, said he always wanted to fly, but didn’t start at Iowa Lakes until the year after he graduated from Washington High School in 2011.

“I wanted to be sure this is what I really wanted to do. I grew up with toy airplanes. I always looked up in the sky when I heard a plane in the air. But flying wasn’t a realistic idea until just after high school and I was wondering what I would do for the rest of my life,” Grauer said. “I rode with crop dusters to try it out, then started flight training in 2012. And it worked.”

Now a flight instructor at Iowa Lakes, Grauer said Iowa Lakes classes took him three years with part-time jobs to cover his expenses. 

In addition to a private pilot’s license, Grauer is instrument rated, holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a certified flight instructor, a certified instrument flight instructor, and has a multi-engine rating.

His plan is to eventually move to Des Moines and commute to a larger base to fly for a regional or major airline. 

“Right now I’m getting paid to fly as a flight instructor. This is the best environment I’ve been in. The people are great,” Grauer said. “But I’m ready to see more of the world. And I will miss Iowa Lakes and Estherville when I leave.”

For More Information:

Iowa Lakes marketing office at 712-362-7944

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