ALANSON – The Aviation Science & Technology program hosted by Alanson Public Schools, and housed at Pellston Regional Airport, recently received a generous grant to help pay for private pilot training for those students interested in earning their private pilot licenses while still in high school.

Alanson superintendent Rachelle Cook announced that the Kroeger-Mainland Family Fund, a fund held by the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, is providing the program $30,000 to assist students in their efforts to achieve the 40 total hours of flight time required for a private license. During the school-year program, students earn 10 hours of flight time, which gets them to their first solo flight, Cook said.

Student Anna Varnhagen is pictured before her first solo flight!

“We currently have four students who want to go for their private pilot licenses, and we are so grateful for this extremely generous donation that will remove cost barriers for students to pursue their dreams,” Cook said.

The donation will support this year’s students and those in the future who enroll in the program and strive to earn their private pilot licenses. In a time when a nationwide pilot shortage is straining the airline industry, the timing could not be better, according to Ken Mainland, advisor of the Kroeger-Mainland Family Fund, based in Petoskey.

“This program that Mrs. Cook is overseeing, along with instructor Capt. Duane Enos, is high level and truly deserves this scholarship program funding,” said Mainland. “The need for pilots in the U.S. is at a premium, so what better way to help than to fund a vocational program like the aviation class through Alanson schools.”

The Aviation Science and Technology program is a course offered through Char-Em ISD Career and Technical Education. To learn more about it and all CTE programs offered throughout Char-Em, visit

Caption, top of page: Aviation Science & Technology student Kurtis Mainland (center) recently took his first solo flight!


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