Cleared for takeoff, it was onward and upward for one young man served by ProAct. Kevin Valverde Bustos has career aspirations to be a pilot, and ProAct employment specialist Cindy Besonnie is helping him navigate his initial options.

Through the Pre-Employment Training Services program, the recent high school grad from Prior Lake was inspired by an uncle who told him stories about flying, she explains.

Checking airport options

Besonnie set up a Skype online meeting with the Metropolitan Airports Commission and a close-up experience at Airlake Airport in Lakeville. Talking with Flying Cloud Airport in Eden Prairie and Airlake, she was surprised by how welcoming they were.

“We call them job shadows and informational interviews,” she said. ProAct got its start with the Pre-ETS program last summer.

The Airlake manager recommended a demonstration flight. The idea is to make sure potential pilots are comfortable with it before they dive deep into the training.

Prior to Airlake, the employment specialist met Bustos at Airtreck North flight school at Fleming Field South St. Paul Airport. A flight instructor shared pilot training basics with them. The recent grad sat in airplanes and learned about the controls, moving the flaps, she said.

At the controls

That experience was stepped up a notch at Airlake. Besonnie rode along as Bustos gained experience maneuvering a plane on the ground and taking the controls at altitude.

“We flew over Kevin’s home, which was a thrill for him,” she said. “He loved the experience, and it makes him want to be a pilot even more so.”

Bustos hopes to attend Normandale Community College and then Minnesota State University, Mankato to pursue his career.