President and Chief Pilot
Jim Santilli is the President and Chief Pilot of Great Lakes Air Operations. He holds an Airman Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with a small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) rating, and has more than 4 years of experience flying sUAS'. His aviation training includes aeronautical charts, aircraft, airport operations, airspace classifications, autonomous flight, aviation weather, crew resource management and aeronautical decision making, emergency procedures, flight restrictions, hazards to flight, loading and performance, maintenance and pre-flight procedures, Part 107 regulations, physiology for pilots, and radio communications. Furthermore, he also has training in aerial photography and videography, Phantom and Inspire aircraft operations, drone business, corporate law, criminal justice, and emergency medical services.
In addition, Santilli has more than 18 years of transportation safety experience and currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of an internationally recognized agency. He also has more than 5 years of experience working in various public safety fields, and has taught a number of college criminal justice classes.
Santilli currently serves as a member of the Michigan Aeronautics Commissions' Unmanned Aircraft Systems Advisory (UAS) Committee and a law enforcement aviation unit. At the law enforcement agency, he wrote the Standard Operating Procedures and continues to provide expert advice for the new Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) unit. He is currently an Ambassador at Detroit Metro Airport, was the recipient of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s prestigious ‘Elite 40 Under 40’ leadership award during 2012, and was a 2010 candidate for State Representative in the Michigan Legislature.
Santilli is a proud member of the Airborne Public Safety Association, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, Michigan Sheriffs' Association, and serves on numerous committees in varying capacities.
A lifelong resident of Michigan, Santilli is a graduate of Dakota High School and Ferris State University. At FSU, he earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice, received the Torchbearer Leadership Award, and an award from the Department of Public Safety.