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West Michigan Aviation Academy celebrates its 100th FAA Certified Pilot

Aidan Nacke is one of 17 graduating seniors to receive the honor.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — More than a dozen FAA Certified private pilots are graduating from West Michigan Aviation Academy on Thursday, May 27th. One of those seniors, Aidan Nacke, is the 100th student to receive this honor.

He took one of his last flights with the school Thursday in celebration of the achievement. Nacke says it took a lot of work to get to this point, including hours of training and studying before becoming FAA certified. 

"I think it's incredible being able to represent everyone," he says. "I may not be the most experienced or the best pilot out of anybody, but I do my best." 

Academy Founder Dick DeVos joined Nacke up in the sky for the special flight, and he says he's proud of all 17 pilots graduating this year. 

"It's a tremendous opportunity for him and I couldn't be more pleased for him" he says. "Flying is a metaphor for life. For the kids, if we can raise their altitude intellectually, and for them personally, they can start to see new possibility for themselves and in the world."

Nacke is going to Grand Rapids Community College in the fall, and he says he hopes to fly professionally one day. He says its opportunities like this that can turn his dream into a reality, and he's known for a long time that he wanted to pursue a career in aviation. 

"I'm just thinking it's good to be flying, and the moment I land it's sad (because) I want to be in the air again," he says. "I wanted to do this from a really young age. The first flight I took I believe was in Holland (to go) sight seeing when I was 10. I was hooked from then."

DeVos says since the academy's first graduating class six years ago, there's been about 105 FAA Certified Private Pilots.

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