Government's 'Forces to Flyers' program trains veterans to become airline pilots

The U.S. Department of Transportation has created a new program to help veterans become pilots.

The Forces to Flyers Research Initiative is a program designed to address the country-wide pilot shortage while working to provide veterans with the skills and training needed to become commercial pilots.

“We recognize the importance of helping returning veterans find good jobs, and helping communities find solutions for the growing pilot shortage. This shortage impacts air travel and air cargo service nationwide, but especially threatens rural access to air service. This program is an important first step in addressing both of these goals,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a statement.

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The three-year initiative will focus on identifying barriers to training and employment in the field, and provide flight training to up to 40 individuals interested in pursuing this career path, according to a press release.

Veterans selected to participate in the program will receive “flight training extending from the first flight lesson through the training necessary to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) or Certified Flight Instructor-Instrument (CFI-I),” a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesperson told Fox News.

Once they receive their certification, participants will then be equipped with the skills needed to gain employment as a flight instructor as they work toward obtaining enough flight hours needed to become an airline pilot.

The U.S. Department of Transportation just announced last week the four flight schools chosen to participate in the program, which are as follows: Leading Edge Aviation in Bend, Ore.; CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Millington, Tenn.; U.S. Aviation Group, LLC in Denton, Texas; and CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Veterans interested in participating in Forces to Flyers will be required to fill out an application with the individual flight school, which will also provide information on any potential cost students are expected to cover.

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All Forces to Flyers students will also need to provide a first-class medical certificate, student pilot certificate and letter of reference from a previous or current commanding officer, teacher/instructor/professor or supervisor/manager. Additional eligibility requirements can be found at online.