Local Effort to Help Stem Pilot Shortage

Posted at: 11/26/2012 7:13 PM
By: Brianna Long


(ABC 6 NEWS) -- United State airlines are facing a serious pilot shortage. And now, some are taking steps to get new pilots in the air.

Ron DenOuden has been a pilot for more than 25 years.

"It's a great hobby. It's very relaxing, it's a lot of fun," said DenOuden.

And now, he shares his passion with others, teaching them to fly.

"Just like any hobby, if you're that enthusiastic about it, you like to share it with other people," he said.

It's part of a push by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, or AOPA. With a predicted pilot shortage coming, the group wants to get people interested in aviation.

"We take growing the pilot population very seriously. We're losing on average about 10-thousand pilots a year. So that's a major concern for us," said Katie Pribyl, with the AOPA.

Ron is one of many pilots across the country teaching introductory flight classes. It's one class, and the participant gets to fly the plane. Monday, that pilot was me. I took that discovery course, and while I was pretty nervous, and so was my photographer Chad, I can see how getting up in the sky and flying the plane can spark an interest.

"To propagate the sport, you want to have new, fresh blood joining it all the time," said DenOuden.

The hope is to get more and more people hooked on the thrill of flying, to restore the pilots and keep the planes in the air.

Officials say part of the reason for the shortage is that there will soon be a surge of pilots who are retiring.

If you want to take the discovery flight class, you can visit http://spectrumpilotservices.com/Index.html