Instructors bring high hopes to Aviation program


This past summer, the aviation program underwent significant changes.

The largest change that occurred in the program was hiring Brandon Molina as an instructor of aviation. Molina is originally from Racine, and was involved in the College of Aviation at Western Michigan University.

Some changes that will be coming in the near future are better scheduling, less maintenance downtime for aircraft and more instructors on staff.

The college also purchased a Talon Systems program ETA, which is a $10,000 system meant to help organize flight operations at the airport and help keep all records and data regarding flights organized. It will help students know their flight schedule, their account balance and will improve the efficiency of time spent out at the airport.

According to Molina, in the next five years he hopes to see the aviation program in its own facility at the airport, along with the addition of more aircraft to the fleet, which, for many flight students, is something quite exciting to think about.

“I am excited about the changes occurring throughout the aviation department this year,” said Christian Gillaspie, sophomore buisness major and aviation minor. “I am also excited about the great promise that the future holds for this unique program.”

“I came to Lakeland because I see a potential in this college community to produce quality pilots,” said Molina.

Molina was in the Army Special Forces and was a product support engineer at Gulfstream Aircraft Company. A product support engineer is someone who detects potential defects in a product and works with customers to resolve those malfunctions or defects.

“I believe in quality, not cheap training,” said Molina. “That does not mean that costs will skyrocket with the new approach, but rather there will be small increases in cost. Along with that, there will be major improvements in the program.”

These include, but are not limited to, Lakeland getting its own facility at the airport.

Molina’s role in the program will initially be just as an instructor in the classroom and overseer of the program. At the airport, Eldon Isley and Stuart Robertson will be leading up the flight training. They are both certified flight instructors (CFI’s).

Robertson graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has worked for Jet Air in Green Bay, in the past as a CFI and commercial pilot.

Isley has been a flight instructor since 1962 and has been a pilot since 1958 with 56 years of total flight experience. He has more than 6,000 hours of flight instruction and more than 10,000 hours of flying time all together.

“A student that is enthusiastic and has a passion for aviation is the most fun to fly with and teach,” said Isley. “Working in the field of aviation is not like working at all because of how enjoyable it is. Traveling the world and getting paid for it is what I love most about being in aviation.”

The aviation field is one that will be exploding in growth in the next decade.

According to, Lakeland College is the only four-year school in Wisconsin to offer aviation, which gives them a corner of the market that many other colleges have not taken advantage of.

One reason that other schools do not offer this program is because of the fear of the unknown and difficulty in finding people experienced to run the programs. Many colleges also see a poor return on investment with aviation.

“Because our program is set up as a minor, it allows the college to benefit in a major way,” said Molina.

“Students that come to Lakeland for aviation have to choose a separate major, which benefits programs other than just aviation.”