Soaring high above the clouds as a pilot has been a lifelong dream for Chris Sorenson, who recently became the director of operations and chief flight instructor of Eastern Michigan University’s Eagle Flight Center at Willow Run Airport; initially Sorenson wanted to obtain his pilot’s license and go to work for the airlines, but his plans changed once he got a taste of teaching.
“I really enjoyed teaching. It was definitely my passion,” he said.
Sorenson earned his Bachelor of Science in aviation flight technology from EMU, and is in the process of finishing a master’s degree in aeronautical science through Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He was also named a Gold Seal instructor, by the Federal Aviation Administration, because of his record of outstanding performance and going beyond the achievements of a typical flight instructor.
Sorenson graduated flight school from Suburban Aviation, which is also EFC’s parent company.
Suburban Aviation President Tom Trumbull said Sorenson realized during his flight school training that teaching in a collegiate flight program was his true calling.
“It is with that passion that Chris leads our program,” Trumbull said. “He knows that our focus needs to be on the individual needs of each of our students. The size of our program allows us to be able to see each of our students as individuals. Thus, the success of our students is his number one priority.”
Sorenson said in a press release he’s thrilled and proud of his new roles as director of operations and chief flight instructor at EFC.
“It’s a career goal I have been working towards for many years. I hope to carry on the success of the flight school and continue to make it a fun and friendly place for our students to learn aviation,” he said.
Sorenson’s tasks at the EFC involve running the ground schools and managing day-to-day operations. He currently has 12 students in the program training to become flight instructors and he said they are progressing well.
Sorenson said EMU’s aviation program, which offers bachelor degrees in aviation flight technology; aviation management; and dispatch certification, allows students to choose between FAA Part 61 and FAA Part 141 certified flight training at the EFC. Part 61 is a certification program for pilots, flight instructors and ground instructors, while Part 141 calls for more controlled training guidelines to reduce the number of required flight hours to complete the program which then lowers training costs.
Sorenson also said that the aviation program tailors to the individual person, making the program and training more comfortable overall.
“Students can take the airplanes, rent the plane for a day or week and take friends and family along. Not many schools offer that,” he said. “The program provides all new aircraft and safe training. It’s professional aviation with a small program feel.”
The EFC conducts all flight and ground operations for EMU’s aviation flight technology program out of Willow Run Airport and a satellite location at Lansing Capital Regional Airport; all other aviation courses are held on campus through the College of Technology.
Sorenson advises anyone seeking to pursue a career in aviation to go to any airport that offers flight training, introduce themselves to the staff and get to know the people in the industry.
He said he enjoys seeing those around him, whether they be students or fellow flight instructors, following their dreams and perhaps flying for a major airline or in the Air Force after graduation.