By: Rae DeBrabander

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Focus. Don’t get distracted. Keep eyes forward, hands steady, and all calculations accurate. These are rules Mitchell Dellot has to follow every time he’s in the cockpit.

At 22, Dellot is one of the youngest pilot instructors in Western Michigan University’s aviation program. His job? Make sure young students in the aviation program take off, fly, and land with utmost precision and safety. And with the aviation programs newly announced ranking as the third best aviation school in the nation according to Forbes Magazine, Dellot’s influence is more prevalent than ever.

“I like the freedom of flying, being able to get in a plane and within an hour be in Chicago, or in a few hours be a couple of states away,” Dellot said.

In a typical day Dellot starts out at the WMU Aviation school located in Battle Creek, Mich. He works the front desk, signing other pilots in and out of runways and simulators, waiting for his own students to arrive. Once they do, Dellot’s favorite part of the job begins: taking to the skies.

Dellot has interviewed for pilot positions with the Navy, US Air Force, and Air National Guard, hoping to one day fly for our military. However, he can’t bring himself to leave WMU yet. His work isn’t done, he says. There are still students to teach and experiences to have that will continue to push him toward what he describes as his “ultimate goal.”

“My ultimate goal? To be a captain on the Boeing 777 for Delta Air Lines,” Dellot said. Dellot has been offered a job, beginning in September of 2017, that will move him closer to that dream. He will be a pilot for commercial airline Endeavor Air, a subsidiary of Delta Air lines, flying Bombardier CRJ 200 airplanes.

Until then, Dellot has other things to look forward to, like one of his students first cross country flights. Students take cross-country flights of more than 50 miles with an instructor at their side. These are an essential part of the aviation program.

Dellot will instruct Benjamin Lawrence, a 19-year old sophomore, on his first cross country flight on Friday. The pair will fly to the new WMU aviation campus located in Punta Gorda, Fla.

“His teaching style has affected me by making me a cooler, calmer, and more collected pilot. The extra confidence and knowledge I get from his teaching style really transfers over to me when I’m alone in the cockpit,” Lawrence said.

Watching Dellot move around the cockpit, he moves with a sense of confidence and knowledge. He takes control and makes calculations with precision and assurance. There is no room for mistakes when flying at 36,000 feet, but with a smile on his face as he soars through the clouds, Dellot doesn’t seem concerned.

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