Some in Louisville turn pilot shortage into career opportunity

Many students at the Louisville airfield are looking to make a career change.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:46 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Almost 1,000 flights were canceled around the U.S. Sunday, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware. The ongoing national pilot shortage is a big part of that problem.

“For months I was looking at the pilot shortage and reading about it and I was, I’m looking into different schools like ATP and Lift in Indianapolis,” Cisco Tovar said.

Tovar is working on his next career, a commercial airline pilot. He’s learning with Louisville Aviation at Bowman Field.

It’s a big change from his current job as executive chef.

“When I was in the military, I flew in helicopters as a crew chief, so I’ve always had that aviation bug in me, but I finally decided that with the pilot shortage I’m going to live out my dream,” Tovar said. “I have one life to live, so why not live out my dream?”

He is just one of the many students at the airfield looking to make a career change.

It’s an expensive journey though. The cost of parts, insurance, and even gas are pushing the price up.

Morgan Audsley, a certified flight instructor, said even with all that, Louisville Aviation is still booked with students.

“Price is a big hurdle,” Audsley said. “People take out loans. We offer financing here, so it’s just kind of person-to-person basis. Some people have been saving up, and this is something they’ve been wanting to do, and they’re just ready to go.”

Tovar is just at the beginning of his journey. He started lessons at the beginning of the month.

So what all does he need to do before he can pilot your next trip?

“Private pilots license, instrument rating, commercial rating, and then your (certified flight instructor) rating, and then you’ll build from there because you’ll need 1500 hours to go to the airlines,” Audsley said. “So it does take time, you have to be patient, but it’s worth it in the end.”

Louisville Aviation estimates all of those certifications cost about $60,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said the median wage for commercial airline pilots is about $100,000 a year.

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