Alaska Tackles Native Pilot Development
A Bethel, Alaska, flight school is tackling an apparent shortage of home-grown pilots in the state. Yuut Yaqungviat LLCsays its graduates save charter and air taxi operators money because they're happy to work full-time. Flight school director William Johnson told the Alaska Journal of Commerce that many operators hire pilots from "outside" to fly two weeks on and two weeks off. The pilots usually head to their southern homes during their time off. Johnson said Alaska residents consider the $50,000 paid to part-time pilots to be good money and suggest they're willing to work regular hours. Johnson said an average Part 135 operator may have 20 pilots on the payroll but only 10 available at any one time. "If they hire local pilots, not only do they save $500,000 a year, the money stays here in this region." Outside pilots are also given perks like housing and ground transportation that locals don't need. "I will hire every graduate they can give me," said Jim Tweeto, an owner of Hageland Aviation. The school currently has eight student pilots and one A&P student.