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Where Have All The Pilots Gone? Is There Really A Pilot Shortage?

by John White |

Ever since I got serious about flying and got my Commercial Pilot's license with Instrument Rating I have heard the lament that there is a "pilot shortage" coming. Many years have passed since that time as I continued to build experience, acquire an ATP pilot certificate and several type ratings. Let me tell you a story. Back in the mid-60s (when I was just getting going in aviation) many of my friends and I at Michigan State University (we belonged to the Winged Spartans Flying Club) were offered a chance for a job with the airlines. Some took the opportunity; I didn't. Pilot Shortage? Well, it kinda worked out for them, but the road was long and bumpy. Those who took positions with United found themselves laid off several times along the way, and one of them gave up being an airline pilot and became a teacher. Where was this "pilot shortage" for them? Another took a position with Eastern Airlines only to find as he approached the twilight of his career the airline went bust. Luckily he was able to work his way back into the cockpit at United Airlines after a stint as a simulator instructor in Denver. Pilot shortage here? So.. here we go again. I just finished reading a short article from
Shrinking Pilot Population? Speaking of AOPA, the powers that be in Fredrick, Maryland concluded that someone had to be blamed for the decline in the US pilot population and what better scapegoat than the lowly, overworked/underpaid flight instructor. Citing an alleged 75 to 85% dropout rate for new pilots, AOPA pledged to reverse the trend. What followed was 12 months of banging the drum without much change in what student pilots and certificated pilots alike have told me is the number one impediment to flying - The Cost. The folks in Frederick must have more disposable income than the rest of GA because they claimed that cost wasn’t a factor. Aside from all the big talk, the world of professional flight instructors remains largely unchanged.
I looked that article over and then thought about the effort of the AOPA to find a solution to the low completion rates for student pilots. The AOPA doesn't believe cost has anything to do with it, and thinks the answer lies in better instructor professionalism and creating a local aviation community. (See my previous blog post) Hmmm... I wonder if anyone thought about the fact that "It's The Economy Stupid!" Nonetheless, if you are one of those folks who want to become professional pilots here is a great book to help you on your way:   "The Professional Pilots Career Guide" Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7+ ps: Don't forget to sign up for our newsletter "All Things Aviation" here!

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