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LIFT Academy flight training program heading to Tuskegee’s Moton Field

By Jerry Underwood | Read the original article on Made in Alabama

TUSKEGEE, Alabama — Governor Kay Ivey announced today that Republic Airways Holdings and its Leadership in Flight Training (LIFT) Academy plan to develop an advanced flight training program in Tuskegee that will prepare the next generation of aspiring pilots for high-paying career opportunities in the airline industry.

LIFT is teaming with Tuskegee University and the City of Tuskegee to base the training center at the storied Moton Field, where the pioneering Tuskegee Airmen received flight training before becoming the first African American military aviators during World War II.

Students in the LIFT program will train on the academy’s signature fleet of Diamond DA40-NG single-engine and Diamond DA42-VI twin-engine aircraft, as well as technologically advanced flight simulators.

“Alabama has a long history of providing critical flight training for military aviators, and historic Moton Field is the perfect location for a training center for a new generation of commercial pilots,” Governor Ivey said.

“The LIFT Academy is an ideal way to build on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airman by creating solid career opportunities for tomorrow’s pilots.”

Governor Ivey announced the flight training center today at a ceremony at Moton Field Municipal Airport, where she was joined by officials from LIFT Academy and Republic Airways Holdings, representatives from Tuskegee University, and state and local leaders.

As part of the project, LIFT will create 35 full-time aviation-related jobs in Tuskegee over a three-year period, with an average annual salary of nearly $75,000, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce. In addition, 57 certified flight instructors will be involved in the program at Moton Field.

The project calls for a capital investment of $27 million for aircraft.


The partnership between LIFT and Tuskegee University is designed to encourage, recruit and educate future African American pilots with first-rate in-classroom and in-flight instruction.

The unique program is designed to provide students with two valuable certifications — a bachelor’s degree in aviation science from Tuskegee University and a commercial multi-engine pilot license through LIFT Academy.

The program, which open to all students, commences this fall.

“We are excited to grow our aviation community in Alabama. This expansion is possible due to Governor Ivey’s strong leadership in workforce development, which is bringing significant opportunities for aviation education and training and creating new jobs throughout the state,” said Matt Koscal, executive vice president and chief administrative officer of Republic Airways Holdings.

“By joining forces with Tuskegee University and its esteemed heritage, we are honored to enable opportunity and shape the next generation of commercial pilots,” he added.

Indianapolis, Indiana-based Republic Airways Holdings — which operates North America’s second largest regional airline, Republic Airways — formed LIFT Academy as an internal flight school in 2018. Its first students graduated less than three years later.

The program targets students from a wide range of traditional and non-traditional backgrounds, training them in a commercial flight school. LIFT graduates can transition to first officer at Republic Airways with a pathway to the captain’s seat.

“The LIFT Academy project at Moton Field will have massive impacts on Macon County not only through the creation of jobs at the airfield but also the high-paying careers that will stem from the flight training,” said Ellen McNair, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We’re looking forward to supporting this initiative because it will be a real game changer for the community and its citizens, as well as Tuskegee University and its students,” she added.


Leaders in Tuskegee and Macon County welcomed LIFT’s decision to locate the flight academy at Moton Field.

“Tuskegee University is proud to continue a tradition that has contributed so much to the country through the courage and skills provided by the Tuskegee Airmen. A new generation of Tuskegee airmen and women will have the training they will need to serve our country through the military or as commercial pilots,” said Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, president of Tuskegee University.

“What pleases me most is the enthusiasm with which we see young students ready to step up today to become such an important part of history. The new partnership with LIFT and Republic will build leaders and legacies,” she added.

Mayor Tony Haygood said LIFT’s announcement celebrates Tuskegee’s tradition of making aviation history.

“Commercial flight training by Republic’s LIFT Academy at Moton Field is a very appropriate use of our aviation assets,” Haygood said. “The Tuskegee Airmen would be proud to know that new generations of diverse students will learn to fly from this sacred ground just as they did.”

Joe Turnham, director of the Macon County Economic Development Authority, said the LIFT Academy will add a new dimension to the area’s region, which has seen recent growth in other sectors.

“The economic investment and new jobs created by Republic/LIFT in concert with the community and Tuskegee University are significant and only the beginning towards making Moton Field a hotbed for aviation economic development,” Turnham said.

“It adds another layer of success for us and diversifies our recent gains in manufacturing and retail,” he added. “It will also add demand for housing and services that will lift the quality of life for all our county citizens.”

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Joe Turnham
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Tuskegee, AL 36083