What does it take to become a pilot? We found out

Published: Sep. 27, 2022 at 11:29 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Data shows it would take roughly 60,000 new pilots to eliminate the current shortage the country is facing. Despite the number of vacancies, more people than ever are taking to the sky in Vermont. Our Rachel Mann got behind the controls to show what it takes to get off the ground.

Whether you become a commercial or private pilot, Vermont Flight Academy’s Director Tom D’urso says the training takes time. “It’s a four-year professional pilot program with a college degree and years of hands-on flight training,” he said.

That’s a big commitment, but how do you know if you really want to do it before you try? That’s where Discovery Flights come in. Those cost anywhere from $150 to $200. WCAX News went along with flight instructor Charlotte Hatch on Tuesday morning. She’s the Vermont Flight Academy’s only female instructor. Hatch says the number of women in the field is visibly increasing, with more female students from Vermont Technical School taking part in the flight training program.

D’Urso says getting women involved in aviation may be the next step to closing the gap. “They represent anywhere between 4% to 7% of current professional airline pilots, as opposed to lawyers and attorneys, where that number is pretty much on parity with males,” D’Urso said.

But Hatch says the hardest part of being a pilot has nothing to do with gender. It’s being able to handle a lot of tasks at once. “There’s a lot of people talking, a lot of things going on. You got to be able to listen to what everyone else is saying, see what everyone else is doing, and see where you fit into all of that,” she explained.

During a Discovery Flight, the instructor will help with those tasks, as well as review the pre-flight checklist, and go over the next steps to obtain a pilot’s license.

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