INDIANAPOLIS — Fourth of July weekend is fast approaching, and it’s a big travel day for Hoosiers.

Two thousand flights were delayed on Tuesday, and hundreds of others were cancelled. The Federal Aviation Administration is citing staffing issues. Locally one flight school is working to fix that.

LIFT Academy trains pilots for Republic Airways. This summer they paid for flight lessons for 16 area high school students.

“If you look at the data out there, there is over 700,000 pilots over the next decade that will be needed,” said Darrell Morton Jr., senior manager of Education Programs for Republic Airways. “There are a lot of kids out here that don’t know what they want to do. If we introduce aviation to them, specifically becoming a pilot, this is an opportunity for us to reach kids we may not have reached before.”

Recently, major airlines have begun cutting back on requirements to become a pilot. Delta eliminated the need for a college degree. It is giving high schoolers an expedited path to the skies. Through Republic these students can continue their education and eventually become a commercial pilot.

“College hasn’t really been my thing. I was happy to hear that some of the degrees were dropping for some big airlines,” said Ayah Muhammad, a Pike High School student who is taking advantage of LIFT’s free lessons. “I always thought about it, but I never knew there was an outlet for it.”

“I’ve grown so much in my confidence. I never thought I could do something like flying an aircraft,” said Faith White, an Avon High senior who is also taking the flight lessons. “It opens my mind to the things I can accomplish.”

LIFT Academy will host another free summer program next year. If you or your child are interested, you are encouraged to email