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NCAI was founded in 2014 to explore avenues for addressing an impending US pilot shortage and the accompanying regional labor shortage of qualified flight instructors at Northern California flight schools. How could we lower the barriers a student in Yuba City or Marysville faces to becoming employable in this labor sector?

This discussion led to the broader question of how to create, promote, and sustain career pathways in other aviation fields with growing regional demand, including aircraft maintenance, agricultural aviation, and small unmanned aircraft (drone) operations.

Our mission ‘to develop, sustain, and promote the aeronautical career pathways in the Northern California Region’.

Students and Mentors from the NCAI Sponsored LSA Airplane Build Program 
  • Board President: Gill Wright. VP Region 2, Pilots Association.  President EAA Chapter 52, Sacramento.

  • Vice-President: Chris Mahurin. CORE Charter School Executive Director, Founding Member of  NCAI and AeroSTEM Academy Charter School

  • SecretaryTreasurer: Michele Rabbon. Project Manager. Program Development.

  • Director: Jim Gulsvig. Captain / United Airlines. Retired Air Force Pilot.

  • Director: Osa Tama. Engineer. STEM Program Development. Retired NASA Engineer.

  • Director: Merrill Grant. EdD, Principal, Lindhurst High School


  • Executive Director: Rikki Shaffer

December 26, 1941 - September 09, 2021

In Memorial of
Les Sanders 

NCAI and AeroSTEM Academy Founding Member, Pilot, Educator, Flight Instructor, Mentor and Friend.

Les is credited with getting the AeroSTEM Academy in Yuba City, which started as part of C.O.R.E. Charter Academy, up and running. The program offers courses in flight simulation, model aeronautic aviation and more to students in fifth through 12th grades at the Sutter County Airport. Sanders taught introduction to aerospace for many years, where he talked about the history of flight as well as flight simulation.   

In addition Les was a founder member of the Northern California Aerospace Initiative and Yuba-Sutter's first LSA Airplane Build program. 

His life and incredible passion for the world of aviation has left a legacy of inspired students that live out his dream to reach for the skies.

Donations to the Les Sanders Memorial Scholarship can be mailed to: Northern California Aerospace Initiative, P.O. Box 2083, Marysville, CA 95901.

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