Our Story

Welcome to US Flight Co! Our mission is to provide aspiring aviators with the best path to an exciting and lucrative career as a pilot. This is our story…

We started planning the opening of US Flight Co formerly Fly KDSM in the fall of 2019 with a goal of offering local students an affordable option to obtain their pilot certificates. 

It was immediately an uphill battle. We knew we wanted to offer a convenient location to students in the Des Moines Metro. So of course we chose the Des Moines International Airport as our home.

The issue with choosing such a large airport was they hadn’t had a commercial flight school operating there in over a decade, resulting in a lot of back and forth communication between airport officials, legal, and other airport operators to ensure we would be in compliance with all the regulations. 

Then we saw the COVID outbreak. This greatly delayed our opening, but we made it clear we were still going to open the flight school.

After finally launching the flight school with just a single aircraft we almost immediately saw the true demand and what the market was after. 

We had countless students come to us and express that they wished to fly for a living, not just recreationally. 

However, most of our students worked full time, many had families, and almost none of them wanted to go to college for 4 more years while taking out hundreds of thousands in student loans. 

Many had already gone that route for their current careers and found they didn’t enjoy what they did. 

We knew we needed to do something, not only to seize the opportunity the market was providing, but we genuinely wanted to help our students build the careers they were seeking. 

So we began digging to see what it would take to get people from zero experience to career ready. As we compiled the data we realized we could fulfill the need, however the biggest issue was most people were not going to be able to afford the program. 

So at this point we knew the only way to truly help our students was to find a lender to partner with, allowing students to get loans to cover the cost of training. 

So we focused almost all of our energy on finding someone to partner with. Over the next year we went through dozens of interviews, long phone calls, and a lot of sifting. 

It was tough, but eventually we came across a company that knew the industry, and had a program specifically for flight students. The program offered a repayment plan that made sense and seemed doable for most.

After providing them with our current completion stats we were accepted to become a partner and our Fast Track Program was born. 

Most students have indicated they want to go to the airlines. But one big thing about the airlines is their pay is almost exclusively seniority based. This means you are paid based on how long you have been with the company. 

With this in mind we knew we needed to get people there as fast as possible. 

Leaving the hundreds of thousands in student loan debt to attend a college program aside, there is simply no time to waste 4 years on something that can be done in less than 1. 

Our method is simple, we maintain proper student to instructor and student to airplane ratios ensuring that our students can fly 5 to 7 times per week! That is a lot of flying!

This allows our students to finish the program in as little as 9 months. 

However speed isn’t the end all be all. We know we need to produce quality pilots as well.

Our programs are under continuous development adding tools and resources, while improving our instruction techniques to ensure we not only allow students to progress fast, but to help them develop into exceptionally safe and competent pilots as well.

Having provided training to hundreds of pilots and flown almost 10,000 training hours our team has refined the process to make learning to fly a fun and efficient process.

Meet The Team

Blake Bakkum

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII MEI
Blake is an aerospace engineer-turned pilot from Batavia, Illinois. He graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and soon after completed his flight training at ATP Flight School at Dupage Airport (DPA) in West Chicago. He is passionate about giving students a well-rounded flight school experience focusing on aeronautics, physics and the essentials of flight.

Daniel Watkins

Certified Flight Instructor | CFI
Daniel is from Allensville, PA. He decided to become a pilot in college while pursuing his childhood dream of studying meteorology. After graduating from Penn State in 2019 with degrees in Meteorology and Energy Business & Finance, he continued his pilot training at Hagerstown Flight School in Hagerstown, MD. Daniel earned his instrument rating and commercial license from Frederick Flight Center in Frederick, MD. After that he came to Des Moines, IA, and completed the CFI course here at US Flight Co. "I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of this company and fly for a living. My hobbies include playing tennis, stargazing, and cheering for the St. Louis Cardinals." Daniel's aviation goal is to fly for one of the major airlines.
Flight Instructor in Des Moines, IA

Jayden Oshirak

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII
Jayden graduated from the University of Dubuque in winter of 2021 with a Major in Flight Operations and a Minor in Aviation Management. Becoming a CFI was actually his dream job so he can share his passion for flying with others. Jayden is also a Buffalo Bills enthusiast!

Jared Ash

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII

Rodney Schlueter

Certified Flight Instructor | CFI

Ryan Dean

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII MEI

Marwan Adhab

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII

Jeremy Davis

Certified Flight Instructor | CFI

Rick Giarusso

Certified Flight Instructor | CFII MEI ATP

Shelby Voeller

Office Aministrator

Drew Costa

Aircraft Technician

Michael Sawyer

Co-Founder

Anthony Fowler

Co-Founder
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