The airport had a name that caused confusion, but the new one fits it’s surroundings. It was previously known as the Arcata-Eureka Airport, but it is located in McKinleyville.
“That’s one of the things that spurred the idea of the name change because that’s confusing,” said airport Program Coordinator Emily Jacobs.
Now, it’s called the California Redwood Coast Airport. Jacobs said they hope it will encourage people to fly straight into Humboldt County, instead of San Francisco.
“Around half of our travelers that use this airport are coming from out of the area,” said Jacobs. “So we just see that as an opportunity to knowledge to our presence here in Humboldt County to out of the area.
With that hopeful boost in travelers, the airport needs new pilots. But now, it will be a little more difficult. The Federal Aviation Administration just increased the amount of hours a commercial pilot needs to get a license. What was once a 150 hour flying time requirement is now 1,500 hours.
“It’s about $100 an hour for lessons for private pilots and so that equates about $150,000 worth of lessons to get to the commercial level whereas it was $1500,” explained Jacobs.
This is why there are a limited number of people enrolling in pilot’s school. Another reason for the pilot shortage is a generation that is getting older.
“The mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots is 65 and because that generation is so large there is a large generation of retiring pilots and we don’t have enough of the upcoming pilots to replace them,” she said.
This means there’s no better time than now, if you’re interested in being a pilot.
“’It is an excellent time,” said Jacobs. “Also, the airlines are paying for education so they’re actually hiring pilots before they become pilots and sending them to school.”
Jacobs also added that the Aviation Advisory Committee hosts Young Eagle events. She says they provide an opportunity for young people to go out and fly with pilots.