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Replenishing The Skies: Local Aviation School Offering Incentives For Young Pilots

BUTLER (KDKA) -- One-in-three Americans is traveling this holiday weekend, and nearly 7 million Americans will be flying.

But there's a looming crisis in the air.

"There's a tremendous shortage worldwide of pilots," says Fabio Ruberto.

Ruberto is director of operations for the High Flight Academy in Butler which trains aircraft pilots.

"The pilots that we have in the system now are retiring. They're aging out," Ruberto told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday. "So there's a tremendous need worldwide for commercial pilots both for the airlines and cargo."

Enter the Community College of Beaver County (CCBS) and its counterpart, Butler County Community College (BC3), which together announced a new flight training program in partnership with High Flight Academy at the old Butler County Airport, tapping into an existing program at CCBC.

"They have for years had a high school aviation academy for high school level students, and the idea was to bring that into Butler County working in conjunction with Butler County Community College."

High school students, juniors and seniors, who are thinking of becoming pilots can get a head start.

Beginning this fall, high school students can get two years of training in basic aviation.

The advantage of that is after two years, they get one year's worth of credit in either one of the two community colleges.

"They will be taught by the colleges' instructors as well as our instructors, so we will provide the flight training instruction and the college will provide the ground school, the basics in aviation, so things like aerodynamics, and understanding all of the different control services of an aircraft, weather patterns, basic flight training and flight skills," explained Ruberto.

Of course, it will take time to get a commercial pilot's license, but the reward is real.

"You can start in high five figure, low six figure income your first year."

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