WINDS AIR co-owners Richard Sack and Don Brandis can be seen standing in the Winds Air hanger at the Owosso Community Airport, with the club’s Cessna 172 on the left and Piper Turbo Arrow IV on the right. The Cessna has an approximate cruise altitude of 12,500 feet and fixed landing gear. The turbo-charged Piper has retractable landing gear and a higher cruise altitude, making it better suited to long-distance travel than the Cessna.

  The Owosso Community Airport is located at 205 Airport Dr. in Caledonia Township, just south of Young Chevrolet Cadillac. Airport Drive can be reached from M-21.

(Independent Photo/Graham Sturgeon)


by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

The five co-owners of Winds Air, LLC will host a ground school at the Owosso Community Airport beginning on Saturday, Jan. 20. Each session of the approximately 10-week ground school will run from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m., with students learning the skills needed to obtain their private pilot license. The cost of the course is $100, which will cover the cost of the required textbook and tools. Several Winds Air students have gone on to become aeronautical engineers and professional pilots.

The five co-owners are Richard Sack, who is retired from the Michigan State Police and lives in Corunna; Don Brandis, a professional pilot and flight instructor who lives in Laingsburg; Lance Little, a teacher at Owosso Middle School who lives in Owosso; Jim MacKay, an instructor at Lansing Community College who lives in Corunna; and Mike Soper of Lansing. Soper and MacKay are both certified Airframe and Powerplant mechanics, and Soper is also inspection authorized through the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Aeronautics.

In 2002, the team bought their first plane, a Cessna 172, from Dr. John MacGregor, built their hanger at the Owosso Community Airport, and opened a plane rental and flight instruction business called Midstate Aviation. The group transitioned into a flying club in 2009 and purchased its second airplane, a 1982 Piper Turbo Arrow IV, earlier this year. The club now includes 17 members. Due to their diverse skills, the five co-owners are able to handle all the maintenance and inspections necessary for their aircrafts. In addition to disassembling the planes once every year for inspection, as required, they also disassemble and inspect the planes after every 100 hours of flight.

The Winds Air team decided to make the change from plane rental and flight instruction to give more people a chance to learn to fly. As Sack said, most flying clubs require members to buy in and pay exorbitant yearly dues of $400 or more. Having five co-owners and handling the maintenance and inspections in-house allows the Winds Air team to offer their services at a much more affordable rate.

The ground school will teach students the technical and practical aspects of piloting an airplane, which includes lessons in aerodynamics, physics, math, physiology and flight regulations. To successfully complete the course, students will need to be able to create a comprehensive flight plan, which incorporates weather conditions, the number of passengers, the amount of fuel needed, wind speeds, and altitude, among other variables.

For the ground school, the students will become closely acclimated with the Cessna 172, which reaches an approximate altitude of 12,500 feet and has fixed landing gear. While the Cessna is equipped with both analog and digital instrument displays, students will establish a comprehensive knowledge of the plane’s system of operations, and every tool needed to calculate a flight plan and safely fly a private aircraft.

The test to obtain a private pilot license (PPL) is not included with the course, but every skill needed to become a private pilot will be taught. To be eligible to take the PPL test, aspiring pilots need to log 40 hours in the air, pass a physical, and be 17 years old, though they can fly solo at the age of 16. U.S. residents must be able to produce a passport or birth certificate, while non-residents must also pass a background check.

Those interested in the enrolling in the Winds Air Ground School are asked to pre-register in order for the instructors to purchase the correct number of textbooks. To do so, individuals can contact Richard Sack at (989) 627-8214, or by email at Additionally, students who pass the course will have the requisite knowledge to pass the tests to obtain sport pilot and recreational pilot licenses, if they so choose.

Winds Air to Host Ground School was last modified: November 27th, 2017 by Karen Elford