Weather plays a crucial role in flying airplanes safely. Even in calm weather, teenaged pilots at Randolph-Macon Academy have the conditions outside on their minds.
At the academy, though, summer camp isn't exactly what you would think.
James McGraw, an instructor for the summer flight camp, explained, "Students come here to learn how to fly. During the regular school year students come here to start working toward their private pilot certificate."
Albert Richardson, a student, shared his experience and said, "It's pretty challenging at first, but the more you go at it, the better you get at it."
Henry Siemers, another student, added, "When I started flying a couple years ago, I was a little bit afraid of heights. I overcame that."
These guys haven't even graduated high school yet, but they've already been flying high above the valley.
"It's awesome. It's like the movie Top Gun. Maverick and Goose, you know? Me being Maverick," continued Richardson.
The students are staying at R-MA through this month and have high hopes for after graduation.
"I want to be a politician. That's my main thing, but to get there, I want to go into the army and be a helicopter pilot or go in the air force and be a pilot for the air force," said Siemers.
I was invited to R-MA today to speak to the students. I talked with them about the importance of weather and flight. It's a topic that will help them find a job when they graduate.
Jet companies say about 460,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide between now and 2031 as global economies expand and airlines take deliveries of tens of thousands of new commercial jetliners.
Richardson said, "I want to study at the university of North Dakota and go to a flight program and hopefully major in unmanned air systems and fly drones."
U.S. Industry and government officials are also concerned that the rising global demand for pilots, combined with an anticipated wave in pilot retirements and tougher qualification standards for new pilots that kick in next year, will create a domestic shortage as well.
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