Once a World War II military base, Ryan Airfield in west Tucson is now being used to train the next generation of commercial pilots.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be nearly 17,000 job openings for commercial pilots each year through 2032.
But not enough qualified applicants to fill them.
With demand rising, so are wages.
Students at Arizona Aero Tech flight school, located at Ryan Airfield, are taking advantage.
The airlines just bumped up their starting wages from about $60,000 to $100,000,” Aero Tech President Tim Amalong said. “A lot of them then work for me as instructors and after a year and a half they have their hours they need to go to the airlines.
Amalong says he has no shortage of students.
He has over 60, and is looking to buy more planes.
We havent seen a shortage, even over the summer when its really hot weve been really busy,” Amalong said.
The school also has three flight simulators, which cost about $100,000 apiece.
Out on the tarmac, Ryan Airfield has a unique combination of clear skies, low traffic, and a control tower to help train aspiring pilots.
The fact that Tucson and southern Arizona plays such a big part in training pilots of the future makes this airport so special and important to the region,” Austin Wright with the Tucson Airport Authority said.