Pilot shortage continues to affect local and national airports

The cost and time involved to become a pilot are holding some people back
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 7:04 PM CDT
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MARSHFIELD, Wis. (WSAW) - Even as more people continue to travel, the airline industry is struggling to keep up. Airlines can’t find people to fly the planes.

It’s no secret, the pilot shortage has caused some turbulence in the airline industry.

Aviation Instructor Robert Gleb said one of the reasons people don’t want to learn how to fly is because of the price. “Learning how to fly is expensive, there’s a heavy cost there, but I think the students that I’ve seen most commonly not be successful, or not seeing it all the way through, have that kind of misconception that it was like getting your driver’s license,” said Gleb.

Not only that but becoming a professional pilot takes years. “You attend a flight school either at your local airport here, you’ll work with a flight instructor for a couple of years, get basically your first four, five licenses, and then you’ll have some sort of job where you get some experience,” said Gleb.

The training to become a pilot can be intense, but flying isn’t the only thing pilots need to know. Gleb added that pilots need to understand the weather, physics, and a good knowledge of mechanics to know what is going on with the aircraft at any given moment.

He said people aren’t as interested in flying as they used to be. The awe factor is kind of dead. The Marshfield Municipal Airport manager said the pilot shortage also impacts flight schools when trying to find a flight instructor to teach.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be roughly 18,000 openings per year for airline and commercial pilots this decade. Earlier this year, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a bill she said would help airlines with staffing issues. It would give flight training grants to help veterans become commercial airline pilots called The American Aviator Act of 2023.

“We have a desperate shortage of pilots in training to serve the commercial airline world. This shortage is only going to be addressed when we have a concerted effort to recruit and train the next generation of pilots,” said Sen. Baldwin.

Training institutions, like Fox Valley Technical College, would be the ones to recruit and enroll veterans in their programs.