EUGENE, Ore. — Pilot training programs across the country are getting a closer look after last weekend’s plane crash in San Francisco, and whether it’s a big plane or a small one, the Lane Aviation Academy says all pilots have to start somewhere.
Pilots in Eugene face an intense, two-year program that ultimately earns each one a private, commercial, and instrumental license. It starts at a simulator designed to mimic an actual flight; the controls look the same and it can be changed to simulate different types of weather scenarios. At each training session, the student and instructor spend two hours in the skies. Some students go on to become pilots at local airlines, but others go further and become pilots of regional jets.
“An airplane’s an airplane,” says Academy Director Steve Boulton. “Whether you’re looking at a 747 or you’re looking at these smaller aircraft, they all fly by the same aerodynamic principles. So once a person has learned to fly, they’ve got the basic skills to fly pretty much any kind of an aircraft.”
The program teaches more than basic flying skills; students also learn how to react in an emergency. Boulton says that everyone at the academy knows that risks come with the job, and what really motivates them is a love of flying.