The Calgary-Okotoks Flying School is ready for take off.

The school, located in Okotoks' Air Ranch community, is celebrating after receiving their license from Transport Canada on Jan. 31.

Tim Ulmer, CEO of the Calgary-Okotoks Flying School, says the aviation community in Okotoks is like family.

"I've started a lot of businesses and this is the first business where people just come out and want to help, people are offering me their time like 'hey, I'll come help you paint', I don't even know these people. Aviators are amazing." he explains. "I'm so happy to be in this industry and the people in Okotoks, particularly in the Air Ranch community, they're just happy to see the airport running again and see planes flying. They're so generous with their time, support, and their knowledge and we couldn't do it without them."

The ground school started on Jan. 6 and planes were in the air on Feb. 4. The first group will receive their private licenses by the middle to end of March.

According to the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace, there's a global pilot shortage with Canada needing about 7,300 new pilots by 2025.

Ulmer says the school is a step towards helping to fill that gap.

"We already do have a class of commercial pilots, they're flying more advanced aircraft to prepare pilots for going into the real world of being a commercial pilot. The people that we have, a lot of them are interested in getting their private license and continuing on with their commercial license, and that's a natural feeder. You get your PPL, and then you move onto your commercial. So from when you start with your PPL to when you graduate with your CPL you can have it all done in a year here to help fill that void of pilots."

Ulmer adds the goal of the school is to make flying fun, affordable, and accessible.

The second class begins April 1 with a few spots still open.

To learn more about the Calgary-Okotoks Flying School click here.

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