The pilot shortage has been making flights more expensive and cancellations more common. However, there could be a solution in the form of high school students. Eaton, Ingham and Clinton county school districts are joining forces for a flight school. Enrollment opens this spring.
Keegan Gudobba is training to become a pilot. He’s spent about 300 hours in the air and in simulators, but he still has more hours complete. He had to wait until after high school to begin his pilot training.
“The sooner you can get into it the better,” said Gudobba. “Because then you have all of that additional time flying.”
It takes a lot of time and effort to get behind the wheel, but he said it’s worth it.
“Once you get in the air, you know all of those nerves go away, and you have the world open to you,” said Gudobba.
The aviation world is based on seniority. Pilots with more experience get better flights, better planes, and better pay. Therefore, Gudobba said the opportunity to start training in high school is ideal. There’s also a real need for more pilots.
“There’s no better time,” he said, “Especially if they have the interest in it, it’s better to start early and be proactive in getting those good steps forward.”
That’s why the tri-county schools are getting their students involved.
“Because there’s a record shortage across the nation of pilots,” said Sean Williams, Eaton RESA Superintendent.
The Capital Region International Airport plans to fill the shortage by providing free pilot training to high school students. It will be making the career field more financially accessible.
“So the program is open to all students in the tri-county, both Clinton, Eaton and Ingham counties. It’s in the same format as our other CTE programs,” said Williams.
Gudobba said he would’ve loved the opportunity to become a high school student pilot.
“Flying is absolutely amazing, there’s nothing like it,” said Gudobba.
Excitement over a new aviation career, that’s also helping address the industry’s need for new pilots.
Registration for the new pilot program begins in January 2023, and the classes start in the fall semester of 2023.
Students in the tri-county area will be receiving more information from their local high schools after the official announcement in December.