Darin Hunt soars above the Treasure Valley teaching eager learners how to fly.
CALDWELL, Idaho (KBOI) — The United States military and the commercial airline industry are frantically scrambling to find and recruit more airplane pilots.
Both the private and public sector are facing an imminent shortage in pilots.
The cause: Nearly half the pilot population is about to hit the mandatory retirement age of 65.
This puts both the military and commercial airlines in a tough spot because teaching someone to fly a plane doesn't take too long, but training them to be responsible for hundreds of passengers or fly in a combat setting takes years.
Essentially anyone looking to take advantage of the pilot shortage as a means to gain employment needs to start training now.
Nonetheless the coming pilot shortage is going to create tons of jobs.
"There's gonna be a 15,000 pilot shortage by the year 2026," said Darin Hunt, owner of Air-O-Drome Aviation school in Caldwell.
Hunt has been teaching people how to fly for 16 years and has been flying himself even longer than that.
Reporter Jeff Platt went up above the Treasure Valley with Hunt to get a sense of what it takes to be a pilot.
Lesson one, pilots need to love being in the sky.
"For me it's not really a job, you know it's just fun, and every time I take off it never gets old," Hunt said.
Other than loving the sky and literally being above the world there are a few other requirements to become a commercial airline pilot.
Candidates need any four-year college degree, some flying certifications, and at least 1,500 hours of flying experience.
Getting that much time in the air typically takes a pilot in training about three years.
For those who put in the time, being a pilot can be an extremely lucrative career.
"Typically by the 5th year they tell us they're somewhere in the hundred to 150,000 dollar range," Hunt said.
Hunt adds anyone can learn to fly, but flying enough hours to become a pilot is expensive. Because of this, he suggests flying 250 hours, getting a commercial pilot's license and getting a job dropping off skydivers.