Programs Offered at Auburn University to Help Combat the Nationwide Pilot Shortage
Over the last 30 years, the number of pilots in the United States has decreased by 30%. This isn’t just commercial, military as well. That’s why Delta and the Air Force are creating programs to help recruit the next generation of pilots.
“This is a groundbreaking thing Delta is doing to secure the workforce because there is a critical shortage of pilots in United States,” said Dr. James Birdsong, Auburn University Aviation Program Coordinator.
Delta donated $6. 2 million for Auburn University to build an education building that will hold three different classrooms, flight training programs and simulators to shape quality pilots the industry is looking for.
“It’s encouraging to know I’ll be getting a good education and using that in the industry, which is something I’ve always dreamed of,” said Kyle Brennan, Aviation Student.
The Delta Airlines Education Building will have a ribbon cutting November 16 and will be open for business January 2019 for the Spring semester.
Delta is also offering Auburn University students the Delta Propel Program. It’s the first of its kind in the United States where selected students will be matched with a Delta pilot as a mentor and receive a job offer after graduation.
“We are building for our second century here and investing in the future,” said Dr. Birdsong.
Delta and the Air Force are also hoping more women join in. Nationwide women make up only 5% of commercial and Air Force pilots. But, here at Auburn University, 16% of the student pilots are women and that number keeps going up.
“I was one of 8 women here flying and now we’re up to 16%. It’s great to hear women over the radio when we’re up in the air,” said Mattie McKenna, First Year Flight Instructor.
The Air Force is stepping in as well.
They created a program for high school students called Junior ROTC Flight Academy. 120 high school students were sent to seven different universities, including Auburn University, to develop their interest in aviation and earn their private pilots certificate.
“The students had the opportunity to receive their private pilot certificate and the hope is they go to college, hopefully on an Air Force ROTC scholarship, gain that college experience and with their pilots license, go on and serve in the United States Air Force,” said Dr. Birdsong.
Both Delta and the Air Force hope these programs and opportunities will excite students to pursue a career in Aviation.