SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It's no secret the aviation industry is feeling the impacts of a pilot shortage, but it's a problem an expert said it saw coming.
"The pilot shortage has been around for at least 10 years. We created a few programs over the time to try to fulfill the need for pilots with all the airlines and during [COVID-19], it obviously got a lot worse. The airlines shut down. Pilots were retiring and nobody was getting hired," said Ronnie Greathouse, chief flight instructor Coast Flight Training.
Coast Flight Training trains the next generation of pilots- with minimum requirements of being eighteen years old, the financial means, and passing an f-a-a medical check.
"It's really cool to be a part of a program that's growing and contributing to a problem that's growing but also we're getting people careers," said Greathouse.
The program costs about $85 thousand but he said the airlines are helping fund training.
Greathouse said the San Diego school has trained about 700 commercial pilots since 2015.
One is Cynthia Hernandez.
"I wanted to become a pilot because like I said I did an intro flight. I always thought that airplanes were really cool. No one in my family flies but as soon as I took that intro flight. I was like, 'this is it!' The views are much cooler from up there. I could do this for a living," said Hernandez.
Hernandez went through the two-year program and while she waits a few months to accrue the flight hours she needs to head to the airlines she's teaching students hoping to be in her shoes.
"I still very much enjoy instructing. It's so much fun but then flying a bigger aircraft that's much faster and getting people from place to place [and] where they need to be," said Hernandez.
She leaves advice for those hoping become pilots.
"First step, take an intro flight. Second step, do your research and see if you like it from there," she said.