SkyWest Airlines Teams Up With Academy College To Recruit New Pilots

by Dave Weiman
Published in Midwest Flyer – April/May 2019

BLOOMINGTON, MINN. – The only four-year accredited aviation college in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area – Academy College – has joined forces with SkyWest Airlines of George, Utah, to provide students with a clear-cut “pathway” to an airline career. Both Academy College and SkyWest Airlines have programs designed to help students reach their ultimate goal.

The “SkyWest Pilot Pathway” program provides a direct path for exceptional pilots with a desire to take control of their aviation careers. Enhanced seniority, guaranteed final interview and access to pilot mentors are just a few of the upgrades students can receive by qualifying for the SkyWest Pilot Pathway program on their way to becoming one of SkyWest’s more than 4,000 professional pilots.

Unlike an internship, the SkyWest Pilot Pathway program allows students to remain at Academy College to complete their flight training until they are able to meet SkyWest’s Airline Transport Pilot standards. Each student is individually mentored by SkyWest pilots.

Executives from both Academy College and SkyWest Airlines met February 13, 2019 at the Academy College campus in Bloomington, Minn., to commence this new program.  Academy College recruits’ students and provides the education, flight training and opportunities to build flight time, and Sky West in return provides the pathway for these students to become airline pilots.

Academy College President Nancy Grazzini-Olson, and Aviation Director, Julie Falk, represented the college. Representing SkyWest Airlines was Nathan Richard, check pilot, Chicago, Illinois, and Quint Kimbro, pilot recruiter, Atlanta, Ga.

The Pilot Shortage Is Real

“The pilot shortage dilemma is real,” says Academy College officials, and it’s a worldwide problem. U.S. mainline carriers will have to replace more than 18,000 pilots over the next few years, and industry growth is predicted by the FAA at 1.3 percent. Additionally, the FAA now requires first officers and captains under Part 121 air carrier operations to be Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificated.

About Academy College

Academy College is the only college in the Twin Cities that provides four-year degree program in aviation. Students who are from the Twin Cities appreciate Academy College’s close proximity, and the fact that their tuition stays in their home state of Minnesota. Academy College is located at 1600 West 82nd Street in Bloomington.

Academy College has the largest collegiate commercial pilot flight training program in the Twin Cities, an impressive aviation business program, and the only FAA-approved aircraft dispatch training program in Minnesota.

Academy College offers an Associate of Aviation Science (AAS) degree, Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Commercial Aviation, and has FAA authority to certify its commercial pilot graduates for reduced aeronautical knowledge for the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.

All flight training is completed at Academy’s affiliate flight school, Thunderbird Aviation, with locations at Flying Cloud Airport (KFCM) and Minneapolis Crystal Airport (KMIC). Flight training is provided using Cessna and Piper aircraft. Testing for each pilot certificate and rating is done at Academy College. Academy College graduates can build the flight time needed to quality for the ATP Certificate flying charter and instructing at Thunderbird Aviation. Once students have acquired their instrument rating, 3.0 GPA, and two professor recommendations, they are qualified to apply to the Pilot Pathway program with SkyWest Airlines.

For additional information on Academy College and opportunities with SkyWest Airlines, call 952-851-0066  or email (

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