Aviation experts say now is the perfect time for a career in aviation

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ELIZABETH CITY, NC – Reginald Booker is a student at Elizabeth City State University, but his future is about to take off.

“I would love to be a captain for a major airline,” Booker told News 3.

He is a flying student with the aviation program at Elizabeth City State University.

“Growing up, I always wanted to travel,” Booker said. “I’ve had a love for aviation since I was very young, living in Atlanta, touring Hartsfield-Jackson, seeing all the jumbo jets and things like that.”

Aviation experts say now is the perfect time to take your wings. This is because of the recent pilot shortage due to the layoffs of pilots by airlines during the pandemic.

“And we also have pilots who are ready to retire,” said Dr Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the School of Science, Aviation, Health and Technology. “So 50%, if you check the airline list, 50% of pilots will be retiring in a few years.”

A Federal Aviation Administration report said that over the next 20 years it predicts that domestic passenger service will increase by about five percent each year, so pilots are needed. Of course, you’ll need to study and practice, and if you’ve never flown before, you can start with a small, four-seater plane.

The ECSU showed us its fleet of small planes. Inside, you can see the yoke – equivalent to a steering wheel in a car -, buttons and many buttons. It might sound intimidating, but Brenna Daniel, an ECSU certified flight instructor, said the practice makes perfect.

“It can be quite intimidating,” Daniel said. “It sounds like a lot at first, but once you get it all together it’s actually quite easy to fly a plane from one of them.”

Daniel graduated from the program and helps train new students as CFIs. Being CFI also allows him to accumulate experience and flight hours. These hours will eventually be used for a pilot position with airlines.

“Some come with a little bit of time, but the normal student is at 0 time,” Daniel said.

Daniel flew News 3 reporter Julio Avila on his plane, showing him the ropes of flying in a small plane. Aviation programs can cost tens of thousands of dollars, even up to $ 100,000.

This program, said Dr. Rawat, costs “less than $ 32,000. I don’t think you can get that kind of deal anywhere else ”.

“I would say you just have to take that first step and do it,” Booker said.

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