July 10 – As Americans, we have, in some respects, taken for granted the fact that we can get just about anywhere in the world just about any time we want.
Air travel has been available to us since the early 1900s. In fact, the first passenger air flight occurred in 1917 from Tampa to St. Petersburg, FL.
How wild would that have been to board that plane?
Since then, air travel has become one of the major forms of transportation in this country.
But what happens when we don’t have anyone to actually fly the planes?
Pilots – as should be the case – require extensive training to get, say a 757, into the air and keep it there – and the training can take years and cost upwards of almost $100,000.
Add to that we just saw a worldwide pandemic and a new mandatory retirement age of 65 for pilots, and the number of pilots available to man flights has dropped significantly.
That includes helicopter pilots.
Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “Making the already devastating health care crisis that plagues rural America even worse. More than 80 million Americans live more than an hour’s drive from a potentially life-saving Level One or Level Two Trauma Center.”
Living that far away requires helicopter travel to save lives and when the pilots just aren’t there, could a person pass away simply because he or she couldn’t physically get to a hospital?
Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “Over the last year there’s been a lot of coverage about the pilot shortage for commercial airlines. I think it’s United, they’ve even been forced to create their own in-house school to get pilots licensed, they’re so short of people. There’s even legislation being discussed federally, that would raise the retirement age for commercial pilots. So it would make sense to me if there’s a shortage at that level, people don’t think about the importance of these helicopter pilots for medical transit and other purposes. I don’t know what the solution would be. They could probably make new programs and ramp up incentives to get into that line of work, but these are not the kind of jobs you can just flip a switch and say start next week. It takes many, many months, if not years to get that certification.”