Helping Disadvantaged Teens & Young Adults Become Commercial Pilots

The purpose of Urban Flight Club is to inspire and assist kids who lack the means, hope and structure to excel at school, family and community through flight instruction. For those kids who show a love and aptitude for flying, we will help them get funding and placement in flight schools so they can build careers as professional pilots, thus helping them earn their way out of the revolving door of poverty so many of them are stuck in.

Pilot Shortage – A Real Need

In the next 20 years, airlines in North America alone are going to be in need of around

117,000 New Pilots
Projected shortage of airline pilots in the U.S. is expected to increase to over

2,000 pilots by 2025

Compared to the recorded pilot deficit of 155 in 2016.



noun: the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.
verb: have as one’s intention or objective.

Our Purpose


Build each teen from the inside out by giving them personal attention, encouraging them to improve and helping them reach for something higher through aviation.


Inspire communities and families through sharing our success stories and encouraging other teens with hopes of a better life to pursue them.

To most people the sky is the limit. For us, it is home.
Make A Difference

“One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching is seeing smart kids waste away because they lack hope. The revolving door of drugs, abuse and jail for parents and kids in the inner-city is real for some here in Atlanta.

Urban Flight Club has a program that provides kids an opportunity to become a professional airline pilot. They would have to maintain good grades, stay out of trouble and train hard, but if they had the desire, Urban Flight Club would give them structure and help to get there.

I have seen smart kids fail and end up in jail or on the street because they lack hope. This amazing organization provides not only hope but a path to success.”

– Jerimiah Holtsmith, Atlanta GA
Three Levels of Training
Intro Flight & Ground School
1 hour intro flight then onto classroom instruction that is fun, engaging and educational
Private Pilot
Training in the air to become a real pilot
Commercial Pilot
Expanded training to prepare for the airlines

What Are the Costs

To go through the program, most of the costs are covered for each student. To ensure every student takes the program seriously and doesn’t take it for granted, they will be expected to keep their grades above a 2.5 GPA and help fund their own training in some way. This can be service to others, getting a part-time job or volunteering at a homeless shelter. Their volunteer hours will be counted as payment towards their training.

Level I Intro Flight & Ground School

25 Hours

Skills Objectives: Take an introductory one hour flight. The student will be able to take the controls and feel what it is like to be a pilot. They will then enter ground school training where they’ll learn about the basics of flight, careers, weather, avionics and the history of aviators.

Student Expectation: Each student will be expected to study the material, come to each class prepared with questions and show diligence in learning the material. School work comes first always. Our professional instructors are donating their time so expectations are high for each student to take the program seriously.

Level II Private Pilot

40 Hours of Flying

Skills Objectives: Learn how to navigate, communicate and aviate safely in a small airplane that is easy to fly and land.

Student Expectation: Each student will be expected to continue to keep their grades up and stay out of trouble. All participants will be flying an airplane and will need to study material, watch videos and maintain a good attitude with all interactions with their instructor. Each instructor will be donating their time so we ask each student to show respect and gratitude.

Now that the student has become a pilot, they can teach others, earn a living and progress on to their goal of becoming a professional pilot. The levels below are completed outside of our program. However, we do assist, guide and counsel each student to help them reach their goals as needed.

Level III Commercial Flying

400-800 Hours of Flying

Skills Objectives: Become a certified flight instructor, build hours and advance in skills through flying more complicated aircraft while teaching others to fly more simple training aircraft.

Funding required: At this phase of their aviation career, our team will help each student find aviation grants and if needed, student loans to pay for the rest of their flight time and instruction. Each student will need to become a commercial pilot and then a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) so they can get paid while building flight time.

Career Goal Hired by a Major Airline

Potential Salary = $100K+

Skills Objectives: Once the pilot has flown about 500 hours, they can start applying for positions in major airlines. The airlines will then take over all instruction and pay the pilot a salary while going through this phase.

Funding required: None needed in this phase.

Come Back and Serve Inspire Others by Speaking, Teaching & Training

Return and Serve: It is our hope that pilots who come through this program will come back and serve in their communities to inspire, sponsor and guide other teens to follow in their path.

Funding required: None needed in this phase.

Our Instructors

Daniel Todd - Founder

Daniel Todd grew up in Atlanta, GA and saw what poverty can do to people first hand. His goal in establishing Urban Flight Club is to help others become inspired and have hope to live a better life through aviation.

Daniel is a pilot, medic, volunteer and small business owner.

James Layton

James Layton’s love for flying started at a young age by standing behind the chain linked fence at the airport watching jet airliners land. From that point on he knew he wanted to fly for a living.

James always asked his parents for flying lessons but it was never in the budget. After graduating high school, James worked full time and saved money for flight school. In 2016 he enrolled at Utah Valley University and started his flight training. James now has a bachelors degree in aviation science with a concentration in professional pilot. He holds both a commercial pilot certificate and flight instructor certificates. James has over 800 hours of experience in flight training. In the spring of 2020, James will be joining Skywest Airlines as a First Officer on the Embrear E175.

Joy Appelbaum

Joy Appelbaum became interested in flying while working at Delta Air Lines as a gate agent. She switched her major at UVU to Aviation Science and began flying the summer of 2017, then she received her flight instructor certificate April of 2019. Joy’s dream job is to end up back at Delta Air Lines as a pilot.

700 flight hours total flight hours, 400 hours of dual given. 11 check ride sign-offs with a 90% first time pass rate.

Larry Shumway

Larry was the State of Utah School Superintendent from 2009 – 2016. He earned his PhD in education from the University of Las Vegas. He loves teaching new pilots one-on-one and understands the need of a community to find better outlets for kids.