Waco Aviation

(WACO, Texas) – Students in the Aircraft Pilot Training Technology program at Texas State Technical College are seeing an array of job options once they graduate.

“There aren’t enough pilots being trained to meet the need,” said Trey Cade, director of Baylor University’s Institute for Air Science, which partners with TSTC in pilot training. “Airlines need to be flying more routes and need more airplanes.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for airline and commercial pilots are expected to increase by 4 percent through 2026.

“The demand is everywhere, specifically at the regional level. Everyone is fighting each other for the ability to get you, the pilot, to come to one of us,” said Marie Didonna, a cadet manager for Envoy Air Inc. “It’s kind of like the buyer’s market for housing; it’s the pilot’s market for a job.”

Although traditionally a male-dominated field, the aviation industry is seeing an increase in female pilots.

“Our female cadet numbers are going up,” Didonna said. “Those interests are really taking off, and it’s easier to spread the word when you can say, ‘Look, these are female pilots.’”

According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s 2018 Active Civil Airmen Statistics report, there were more than 46,400 female pilots in 2018 compared to around 39,600 in 2013.

“It’s great to see a little girl look up at you and say, ‘That’s amazing; I didn’t know I could be a pilot,’” Didonna said.

TSTC’s Aircraft Pilot Training Technology students take classes and do all flight training at the campus airport. Baylor students do coursework at their home campus and flight training at TSTC.

“I would definitely recommend the program to anyone who is seriously interested in becoming a pilot,” said Noelle Smith, an Aviation Sciences major at Baylor from Fort Worth doing pilot training at TSTC. “They get you in the plane first semester. You’re immersed in it to make sure you like it.”

Aviation students from both institutions are given helpful perks to help jump-start their careers. TSTC offers a Part 141 training program that enables Baylor graduates to receive a 500-hour reduction from the required 1,500 flight training hours. TSTC students who graduate with an associate degree receive a 250-hour reduction.

“The 141 program here at TSTC is very professional,” said Andrew Dolan, a TSTC flight instructor and Baylor aviation alumnus. “You really get the good training you need here to excel and advance further in the industry.”

The annual mean wage for commercial pilots in Texas as of May 2017 was more than $105,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

TSTC has the largest airport in the United States operated by an educational institution and includes a dual runway operational control tower.

“I like how it [the program] is structured,” said Alejandro Ledesma, a TSTC Aircraft Pilot Training Technology major from Dallas. “They don’t just make pilots, they make quality pilots. I’m not trying to be another average pilot.”

For more information on Texas State Technical College, go to tstc.edu.

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