FAIRMONT - Bringing in a flight instructor was one of the top priorities for Fairmont Municipal Airport, and it has been accomplished through Al Thoreson.
Thoreson, a 2000 graduate of Fairmont High School, returned to his hometown recently and purchased Fairmont Raceway. Now he is launching into flight training, a difficult challenge given the limitations of Minnesota's weather, but Thoreson believes a student with the funds, desire and ability to set aside a couple weeks can make it happen.
"People don't realize that; they think it takes forever," he said.
TAKING?OFF?— Al Thoreson is the new flight instructor at Fairmont Municipal Airport.
Sometimes it can take months and years for people to get their pilot's license, but Thoreson says it doesn't have to.
This past winter, he spent three months in Florida and finished four private pilots and two flight instructor ratings.
"I'm not trying to be the most expensive, and I'm not trying to be the cheapest," he said of his service. "I'm just trying to be somewhere people can get it done efficiently."
The cost to become a pilot can vary widely, from $5,000 to $15,000. Thoreson plans to charge $7,500 for someone to become a private pilot. That includes ground training, flight time and the cost to use the plane. He has a Cessna 150 two-seater for primary training for private pilots.
For the next step - attaining complex instrument and commercial ratings - Thoreson has a four-seat Mooney MZOE. He also offers flight instructor training, using a Piper Seminole twin engine.
Thoreson has been a pilot for five years, and flight instructor for four. He completed his initial training in Minnesota. Then, to gain more airtime and experience, he spent time in the Orlando, Fla., area: "A hotbed for aviation in the U.S."
"It's something I was always interested in," Thoreson said. "Initially I wanted to fly helicopters, but I was told by a really honest instructor that if I wanted to do this and get a job, I should start with single engine."
To encourage an interest in aviation in more young people, he would like to see a scholarship program started to help students attain their license.
"That's definitely a goal of mine and others in the community to create a couple scholarships," Thoreson said.
It's a program he worked with in Florida, and it worked well.
"There's work for kids coming out of high school, and it's decent work," Thoreson said.