COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Following the COVID-19 pandemic, the aviation industry suffered. With pilot shortages across the nation, some of the effects are still being felt. LaGrange College is implementing an aviation program on their campus, in hopes of sending more pilots into the friendly skies.

A new aviation program is set to take off at LaGrange College, with a joint partnership with Paragon Flight Training. LaGrange College President, Susanna Baxter, says the City of LaGrange has ideal weather for daily flights.

“We can fly almost year round here in an aviation program.”

Susanna Baxter – President, LaGrange College

Beginning Fall 2023 students will have the opportunity to minor in the program.

“That will allow the individual to have a commercial license and a private pilot license and then there is an option to add on to the course and receive an instructor license.”

Susanna Baxter – President LaGrange College

A classroom is currently being transformed into a flight simulation room. There students will be able to get all their flight simulation hours on campus. All inflight hours will take place less than 10 minutes from campus at the LaGrange Callaway Airport. The hope is students entering this program will leave with a degree and life-long career that currently has a very high demand.

“There are just such few programs in aviation. So this will give students who are interested in aviation just not aviation management to be able to receive that pilot license that they need in order to start flying. And our economy relies on flight, so we are happy to be stepping into the void here in Georgia.”

Susanna Baxter – President LaGrange College

Paragon is providing two cessna planes and all the instructors for the program. The U.S. Regional Airline Association says over the next 15 years, over half of all current pilots in the U.S. will hit the mandatory retirement age of 65 and there aren’t enough trained to make up the shortfall.