Schools Rule: Students take on new heights with aviation program

Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:33 AM EST
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EATON COUNTY, Mich. (WILX) - The aviation industry is facing a nationwide shortage and new pilots are in high demand. The Eaton Regional Education Service Agency (Eaton RESA) is giving high school students an opportunity to fill those open pilot positions.

Eaton Regional Education Service Agencies Aviation Program is open to high school juniors and seniors in Eaton, Ingham, and Clinton counties.

Eaton RESA superintendent Sean Williams said students will complete a combination of bookwork and fly time. “The program is designed to allow students while they are in high school to work towards their commercial pilot license,” said Williams. The program is provided to students at no cost as part of the RESA’s career preparation center program and high school student Jordyn Lira can’t wait to get up in the air.

“I’ve always been very interested in traveling so a job that would let me do that has always been something that I was interested in,” said Lira.

According to Eaton RESA, an estimated 600,000 new pilots will be needed over the next 20 years.

“Well the shortages have never been worse, we have huge gaps just in Michigan alone,” said Williams. “Nationwide it’s hundreds of thousands of pilots short.”

Lira hopes to help fill those gaps and said she feels like helping in any way you can in the world right now is a good thing.

High school student Ryan Beattie said becoming a pilot is a family tradition. “I’ve always wanted to be a pilot ever since my brother has gotten his private pilot license and my uncle flew for the air force same with a lot of my cousins,” said Beattie. With Eaton RESA’s flight program, Beattie has the opportunity to follow in his family’s footsteps.

The Aviation Careers Institute will start classes in the Fall of 2023. Classes will be on-site at The Capital Region International Airport.

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