The flight training business has gone through some pretty lean times since September 11th, when many schools closed up shop due to lack of students and a less than rosy national aviation hiring forecast.
But look around any sector of aviation right now, and it’s quite clear those days are gone, maybe forever. Talk to anyone in the flight training business and they all say the same thing:
“You read about big-name airlines going bankrupt and you think: bad time for pilots. But then you go to the airport, and it's jam-packed. Get on the plane, and every seat is full. The fact is-- this is a great time to become a pilot.”That quote comes from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University website, on a page that lists a number of “hot” aviation career opportunities. Not only will the legacy carriers continue to need pilots, but the air taxi startups flying VLJs and LJs will need them too:
The FAA expects up to 5,500 of the new “very light” and “light jets” to be acquired by corporations, air taxi services, and individuals by 2017. With two aviators required per plane for commercial flights, as many as 11,000 more pilots might be needed in this brand-new segment of the industry.I have always been a major-league fan of anything ERAU puts out there. It’s the dream school for many pilots, and trust me, if I had the chance to live my life over again, I’d hang my hat at their Prescott, AZ campus during classes.
Another great advocate that is touting the strengths of the aviation career market – both inside and outside the cockpit – is AOPA President Phil Boyer. Speaking recently at ERAU, he said:
"You're entering an exciting time in aviation – the general aviation and airline industries are looking up, and new technologies and categories of aircraft are entering the market. But you don't have to be a pilot to be involved in aviation. You could be the engineer developing technology to make aviation even safer. Or you could manage an airport, investigate accidents, or even protect a pilot's right to fly with AOPA. You have more options now than aviation students at any other time in history."AOPA has a very nice resource for aviation careers found here.
Anyone in their 20s or 30s that enjoys the same white hot passion for flying machines as most readers of WoF, really doesn’t have a valid reason for not making that dream a reality. If flying a Cessna Citation Mustang around the country so the CEO can do a little business sounds like a really awesome way to drag in a few bucks,
All that stands in the way are a few [really cool] classes at a nice campus in the scenic American Southwest.