California Community Colleges Provide Accessible Pathway For Aviation Careers As Demand For Pilots Soars

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As the aviation industry strives to recover from the ongoing pandemic, the demand for airline pilots is increasing. Major airlines are striving to meet the high demand, but also to improve the huge gender and race gap – where only 5% of pilots are women, 1% are captains and there are still fewer color drivers.

Here in California, there is an accessible path to an aviation career at various community colleges, such as the advanced program offered at Cypress College in Southern California.

“I didn’t know anything about aviation. So Cypress walked me through the process,” said Captain Anond Thairatanakul, a former Cypress College student and current pilot.

“They told me everything I needed to know, including that it was very difficult to do,” said Elizabeth Arias, former Cypress College student and current pilot. “It was nice to see that this goal is achievable. Here I am a student with my teacher, living the dream I want.”

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“I’ve always dreamed of it. I’ve always thought about it. My father was in the Mexican Air Force,” said Captain Ed Valdez, professor at Cypress College and former United Airlines pilot.

Valdez heads the aviation program at Cypress College, where he teaches students about various aviation careers.

Over the years, the program has seen hundreds of students succeed in the industry.

“You could do that too,” Arias said.

“All students if they have the desire and the will to put in the effort, you can be successful in this career,” said Valdez.

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