Texas students go from high school to flight school, taking off with pilot careers amid industry shortage

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Texas high school turns into flight school, focuses on aviation careers

FOX Business’ Connell McShane reports from Rising Aviation High School in Addison, Texas, where students aim to ‘inspire’ their peers to become pilots.

While major airlines and commercial pilots themselves have signaled a growing pilot shortage could greatly impact the aviation industry in coming years, one Texas high school is offering a solution.

Rising Aviation High located in Addison, Texas, was founded just two years ago with the unique goal of focusing its curriculum on aviation training while also teaching core classes like reading, writing, math and science.

FOX Business’ Connell McShane visited the institution Thursday to talk with two of Rising Aviation’s 23 total students about why they chose flight school over traditional high school on "Varney & Co."

Senior Shahinaz Alfadhel moved to the U.S. with her family seven years ago after fleeing Iraq as refugees. Noting that she and her mom love to travel, Alfadhel said she’s hoping to join an industry that, at last check, was 92% male.

UNITED AIRLINES MAY END J.F.K. SERVICE WITHOUT MORE FLIGHTS

"I would like to inspire a lot of young girls to be a pilot as well, since I'm the only girl in here," Alfadhel told McShane. "It would be nice to have more girls having to come over here and learn to be a pilot."

Rising Aviation High School student Hamilton Grant “absolutely” wanted to attend the school and fast-track his pilot career on “Varney & Co.” Thursday, September 8, 2022. (Fox News)

Rising Aviation has access to flight simulators and offers students the capability to earn their private pilot’s certification before graduation.

The high school also owns two small, private planes for students to take supervised test flights and receive flying hours, which are a necessary benchmark for pilot certifications.

"I remember my parents walking in and they were like, 'Hey, we found this new school that you could possibly go to.' And I was like, 'Absolutely,’" 16-year-old sophomore Hamilton Grant recalled. "I'm totally down, just because aviation has been such a big thing in my life."

According to Boeing, 130,000 new pilots need to enter the industry within the next 20 years to fill the staffing shortage.

Since 2019, airlines have seen a 4% decline in pilot numbers. Major airlines like JetBlue and Spirit cut 5 to 10% of their summer schedules to focus on recruiting as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 14,500 pilots need to be hired every year for the next decade in order to keep up with the shortage.

To attract more commercial airline pilots, some companies are even looking at offering higher wages to win over potential staff.

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Regional airports lose service amid pilot shortage

Amid a pilot shortage, major carriers have cut thousands of flights to avoid disruptions – in turn, cutting off the millions of Americans who use regional airports.

One young pilot recently hired by a major airline previously told Fox News Digital the pilot shortage has his peers "excited."

"The shortage is kind of what in the beginning drew me into becoming a pilot just because of the opportunities that a shortage creates with jobs," 26-year-old Justin Jackson said. "I have a chance to fly for a much larger carrier, be paid more… I think right now is the perfect time for anyone to progress their careers for sure."

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