By Keith Roysdon—
DELAWARE COUNTY, Indiana – A flight training company aims to increase use of the Delaware County Regional Airport and offer a faster training path for business and pleasure fliers who want their pilot certificates.
The airport, located north of Muncie and in operation since 1932, will partner with Indianapolis-area company Rapid Flight Training (RFT), founded in 2020, to offer fast and focused pilot training at Delaware County’s airport.
“It’s an under-utilized airport with a fantastic training infrastructure, a very supportive airport authority and business in Muncie Aviation,” said Matt Lehtinen, founder of RFT. “We feel like the Muncie region is fertile ground to grow a flight school to attract local students but also pilots from around the country.”
“The Muncie location will be our first physical flight school and flight training center” with a plan for 10 planes and several dozen instructors. RFT now has three planes in its fleet: a Cessna Skyhawk, Piper Archer and Piper Arrow.
Delaware County officials said they’re very pleased with the plan.
County Commissioner James King said, “The Delaware County Regional Airport is a tremendous asset in our community. The Airport Authority does a great job in making this asset attractive to those visiting Delaware County. The Commissioners are also incredibly grateful for the presence of Muncie Aviation. The important work they do both selling and maintaining aircraft from all over the United States is truly second to none. Muncie Aviation’s support and commitment to now attracting Rapid Flight Training is certainly a game changer for our region.
Commissioner King added, “Having an excellent program like Rapid Flight Training operating at the Delaware County Airport is a win for the whole community. Utilizing this asset and making the most of this facility is really important to me as an elected official. I look forward to seeing more good things to come from this program.”
“On behalf of the county, we welcome Rapid Flight Training and are eager to see their programs come to full fruition,” King said.
County Commissioner Sherry Riggin said, “Having lived in proximity of the airport nearly all of my life and having worked for a time towards a pilot’s license, I am incredibly happy to see such a tremendous flight training program being developed here. As students come to Delaware County for training, they patronize our hotels, restaurants and entire business community. This project is an incredible win for the community.”
County Commissioner President Shannon Henry said, “I’d like to congratulate Muncie Aviation and Martin Ingram on their hard work and dedication in making this project a reality. In addition, the Delaware County Airport Authority board and staff do an incredible job keeping our airport in top shape, which has helped greatly to ensure projects like this take our community seriously. I wish Matt Lehtinen and Rapid Flight Training continued success in our community.”
Delaware County Regional Airport has long offered flight training, but RFT will help people achieve their goals much more quickly, said Martin Ingram, president and CEO of Muncie Aviation at the airport. “You could come out here today and learn to fly with them.”
Tim Baty, airport manager, said RFT at the airport will mean not only prompt flight training but more flights every day. “More airplanes that land and take off is best for the airport authority and it’s going to be great for the airport.”
Lehtinen said that RFT’s goal is to “make Muncie a place that helps cultivate a vibrant aviation community.”
“Like ‘Field of Dreams,’ if you build it, they will come.”
RFT has no shortage of slogans for its planned service. Chief among them might be, “It’s OK to be impatient.”
Lehtinen details how he completed training for his private pilot certificate: “In 50 days, through sheer willpower. To do so, I had to jump between schools, find an instructor to go along on a Canadian cross-country flight and fly solo 2.5 hours each way to my Checkride (the FAA practical test).” He worked to get though his instrument flight training even faster.
“At that moment, I knew flight training could be completed efficiently, students will pay a premium and they will travel from far distances to achieve it.”
Lehtinen believes RFT can provide efficient, thorough focused flight training: a pilot certificate as fast as four weeks compared to six months and instrument training in 14 days compared to three months.
RFT’s proprietary instruction will offer long-distance training flights to give pilots the chance to travel for weather-related training, for example.
“The country is our training ground,” he added.
Lehtinen said he hopes that Rapid Flight Training brings good things to the Delaware County Airport, including a new restaurant.
“In the next three years, we want to grow to 10 aircraft and 20 instructors,” he said. “We envision an extremely vibrant training culture. We hope to help the airport renovate and also reopen the airport restaurant.”
About Delaware County Economic Development
Dynamic and forward-thinking economic development is the specialty of Delaware County, Indiana. In 2015 the Delaware County Commissioners privatized the County’s economic development activities. Since that time, the County has developed its own business retention and expansion programs that are in constant contact with the multitude of industry within the County. In addition, efforts to identify and attract various suitable industry throughout the world are undertaken on an annual basis. For more information, contact Brad Bookout at email@example.com.