Pilot Shortage

F-14 fly by

As my readers know I have been writing about a looming pilot shortage for years. The world economic downturn, age 65, industry consolidation and gutted airline pilot contracts; have all slowed the pace. Two things are now evident: first, retirements started again last December. Secondly, far fewer young people are entering the profession (even fewer qualified).

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From one of many recent articles:

Front and center was a pilot labor forecast research project by the University of North Dakota (UND). A mere 53% of instructors surveyed will choose the career full time, and 32 percent are re-thinking their plans due to the 1,500 hour rule. ExpressJet stated that the pilot shortage is already here airline job fair attendance is down by 50%, their pool of applicants is nil, and only some 30% of applicants to the airline are actually qualified for a job offer.

Many of the airlines in attendance echoed the shortage theme. American Eagle had a pool of 500 applicants but today there are less than 100 in that pool. Few saw any relief in the immediate future, but all agreed that the industry needed to do a better job of marketing the career and to be Ambassadors of Aviation.

Why? Certainly, financial reasons contribute to the shortage; quite simply it is NOT worth the investment to become an airline pilot. But last year the USAF had more fighter pilot slots than applicants: first time ever. Flight training is free and a military pilot gets paid more than an airline pilot now. They are even offering bonuses of a quarter million dollars. Obviously, it is not just financial.

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So what is it? The bean-counters have completely sucked all of the fun out of the program. They have effectively killed Aviation in America. As Sully says;

“The best and the brightest are going elsewhere.”

Indeed. Not everyone is qualified to be an Aviator, military or civilian. A quick look at some of the training records from recent incident pilots verifies that. Enough said. In my day we had a saying in Naval Aviation.

It’s better to die than look bad.

I think back to the hard charging, hard drinking, wildmen warriors; that I went through flight training with. Guys that rose through the ranks, fought our nation’s wars. We raged through the skies and bars of the world. Today? Most of us wouldn’t get through the door, and the rest wouldn’t want to. PCV (Politically Correct Vendettas) would have assured the majority didn’t make it. Talking to old squadron mates about the BS going on now….I would have left too. We had another saying in Naval Aviation.

All this and family separation too!

Spoken with dripping sarcasm. In my books; (Project 7 Alpha, Vengeance and End Game) I try to convey the challenge, adventure and fun of flight. Bottom line; Aviation in general is no longer cool or fun. The bean counters killed it and you can’t make people fly.

Yeah, I was a Tail Hooker, always will be. chip
PS: Nostalgic bonus question: What kind of airfield is the 707 buzzing?

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