The Association of Village Council Presidents is working toward reopening their flight School, Yuut Yaqungviat, in Bethel. AVCP President Myron Naneng says bringing back the flight school is part of an economic development strategy.
“Jobs, jobs , jobs, that are provided as an opportunity for many of our young people within our region and other parts of the state that may want to become pilots,” said Naneng.
Originally opened in 2003, AVCP closed the flight school last fall, citing diminished federal funding and high operating costs. AVCP is now pursuing a new funding plan as a Regional Training Center, and is currently building new energy efficient housing for students with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center. Naneng is seeking partnerships with businesses, which can gain a financial advantage by supporting the training center.
“To be able to pursue tax credits that village or regional corporations or businesses that owe taxes to IRS, or the feds or the state, they can reduce their taxes by applying their money to a regional training center,” said Naneng.
In the meantime, Naneng hopes to be able to pass funding through Yuut Elitnaurvit, which maintains Regional Training Center status. The new dorms are set to be done this winter, but Naneng doesn’t know when the flight school will start up again, but hopes to have money this winter and begin operations in the new year. He says another region has committed to sending students to Bethel.
“We’ve seen like a bout 20 students who are flying commercially throughout the region, and other parts of the state,” Naneng said. “It’s getting to the point where other parts of the state are saying if you can produce pilots in your region, why can’t we send them to your flight school and produce our own commercial pilots that could fly in our region?”