Sunday, November 5, 2017

Wing Flight School taking off with pilot shortage: Nut Tree Airport (KVCB)

VACAVILLE — Denise Duncan described her Wing Flight School as “chaotic” on Tuesday. And that is becoming the norm.

The school, located at the Nut Tree Airport in Vacaville, has been getting busier and busier in recent years – with about 50 students enrolled now.

“Over the last two years, in particular,” said Duncan, who is the manager and co-owner of the flight school, which opened about 7 1/2 years ago.

“There are a couple of things I see in that (growth). The proximity to Travis, and we get a lot of them who are using their GI bill,” Duncan said.

She said there are also a lot of people who have wanted to be private pilots for most of their lives, and have finally come to a point where they can afford to get a license, and of course, an aircraft.

But the majority of students – including the airmen leaving the service – are looking for aviation careers.

“The word has finally gotten out that there is a pilot shortage,” Duncan said.

She said a decade ago, anyone wanting to become an airline pilot, or even a commercial pilot, had to invest a great deal of time and money into reaching that goal. That included, in some cases, having their own planes.

“It’s just a lot easier now,” said Duncan, who added that it takes about one-quarter of the time.

The flight hours required are the same, but access to flight schools is easier. So the sooner someone can qualify to get into the airline field, the faster they will climb.

“Seniority is a big thing in the airline industry,” she said.

The flight school has 10 single-engine Cessnas, and a multiple-engine Beechcraft plane for flight training. But most of the work is done online.

That is why the airport’s plan to expand its office space, and by doing that doubling the instructor and simulator space available to the flight school, has Duncan so excited.

“We can have more instructors, have more students, have one more simulator,” Duncan said.

The expansion is expected to be completed in about a year.

The first step for a student is to earn a private pilot’s license.

“Once you get your private license, you get the instrumental license, which allows you to fly in the clouds,” Duncan said. “Then you can get your commercial license and then you can get the multi-engine add-on.”

It takes 1,200 hours to qualify to be an airline pilot.

The school is recognized by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association as one of the top 10 training centers – a recognition that was changed recently to put it in the top 4 percent of all schools.

One of the instructors, Christlyn Repp, recently received a Distinguished Flight Instructor Award as well. There are two gold seal instructors, meaning 80 percent of their students over a two-year period passed the FAA licensing testing.

The center is also affiliated with Liberty University’s aeronautics bachelor’s program – another fast-track, online program.

Original article can be found here ➤

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