TO THE EXTREME...

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The WJON News Team is running a news summer series on extreme driving experiences in Central Minnesota. Listen as WJON’s Lee Voss takes the yoke on an airplane and learns to fly...


Many of us have flown in airplanes whether for a vacation or for business. But, not many of us have actually taken the controls and flown the airplane. It's one of those things that kids dream of. And, I had the opportunity to realize that dream recently with the help of Wright Aero Flight School in St. Cloud. Lead Flight Instructor Aaron Holzemer says it's a lot easier to get started than you might think...

"Don't have to be a university student...don't have to be an aspiring commercial airline pilot, just people who want to do recreational flying are also welcome to come out and fly."

Holzemer says there's a misconception that flying is unaffordable but, he says it's comparable to other motorized recreational activities...

"Learning to fly on a small aircraft like these is not terribly expensive. We tell people to plan on about $8,000 for the full course on getting a private pilot certificate which is substantially less than what you would expect going through a professional flying program. People who are looking to be an airline pilot are gonna spend quite a bit more on their flight training."

And Wright Aero will be looking even harder for those recreational pilots because they are losing a big chunk of their business as St. Cloud State's Aviation program is phased out...

"When they announced the program closure, we ran the numbers.  Approximately three-quarters of our business came from St. Cloud State University. So, the students in the program are finishing up but they don't take new students. So the result of that is we don't get a fresh batch of new students each semester. So it definitely has affected our business."

That, has Wright Aero officials contemplating what's in store for their St. Cloud flight school. Holzemer says they have already cut their flight instruction staff but are still in business. He says it's important to replace the SCSU student pilots with others in the community...

"You know it's a big hit to our business to be losing these students, so our availability is increasing. We got plenty of time to teach people and yeah we'd love to have more people come out and fly."

Getting the chance to fly an airplane truly was a dream come true. I wouldn't say I was scared, but I certainly was nervous.  I can tell you once we got airborne those nerves turned to excitement and a real rush of adrenaline set in. If flying is something you've always wanted to try, I encourage to give Wright Aero a call.

An introductory flight will cost you well below a $100 and it will be money well spent.
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NEXT WEEK: Reporter Abby Faulkner takes pedaling to the extreme with BMX biking.