Pilots Lacey Mayer, left, and Faith Drewry founded FL Aviation Center at Tallahassee Regional Airport to provide flight instruction, aircraft rentals, aerial photography and supplies for pilots. / Special to the Democrat
It might not look like your typical school building, but classes are now in session at Hangar A at Tallahassee Regional Airport.FL Aviation Center is Tallahassee’s new flight school for aspiring pilots, but also for anyone who is curious about flying and would like to learn more. School founders Faith Drewry and Lacey Mayer invite everyone to visit today and have lunch during a grand opening at the facility from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We are both fairly new to Tallahassee and we felt as the new people, if we saw this need in town, then there was a hole or gap that could be filled,” Drewry said. That hunch appears to be correct — in the 90 or so days since the business’ launch, the center has 360 people on its mailing list.
Drewry says people are coming from as far away as Jacksonville to today’s grand opening. A class for pilots’ recurring training this morning at 10 is full to capacity.
It’s a welcomed sign after Drewry’s earlier experience. A private pilot for 13 years, she moved to Tallahassee four years ago and expected to find a thriving community of aviators.
“Every town has an aviation community,” Drewry said. It’s a way for pilots to meet, get acquainted, swap stories and enjoy their mutual interest in flying.
She only found a few, however, and Mayer’s experience was much the same. Though there was talk among some of the guys of someday offering flying lessons, the two women decided if there was going to be a flight school, it was up to them.
“She and I decided, ‘Let’s do this.’ What the heck,” Drewry said.
Their other motivation is the opportunity that aviation offers for women, who comprise only 6 percent of the pilot population in the U.S., Drewry noted.
“A lot of women are raised thinking that is not a career option for them,” she continued. The two pilots are hoping to change that way of thinking, and they have plans for an aviation curriculum at Florida High and at Tallahassee Community College.
Parked at Hangar A are a Cessna 172 and a Piper Warrior. To be added are a smaller Cessna 152 and a Decathlon, a single-engine plane made by American Champion Aircraft Corp. that will be used for more advanced training.
The recurring safety classes, a form of continuing education for pilots, will be available at no cost. “We will offer them monthly and they will be free because we believe in building a pilot community,” Drewry said.
To find Hangar A, take Capital Circle Southwest to the airport’s general aviation entrance. Turn left on the airport service road, take the first right, and center is the last building on the left before Million Air.