New Program Provides Free Pilot Training for Veterans

Two Pilots Flying an Airplane Towards the Runway

Are you a veteran who wants to be a pilot? The Department of Transportation has a new program just for you.

The Forces to Flyers program is a three-year research initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) and its Volpe National Transportation Systems Center. This program is designed to help ease the critical shortage of commercial pilots.

How Is This Program Different From The GI Bill?

If you want to use the GI Bill to get commercial flight certification you must already have a private pilot's license. You aren't eligible to participate in this program if you already have your private pilot’s license. However, you can enter the program and get your private pilot's license then use your GI Bill for the remainder of the program.

To participate in this program you must have:

  1. A first-class medical certificate,
  2. A student pilot certificate, and
  3. A letter of reference from a previous or current commanding officer, teacher/instructor/professor, or supervisor/manager.

How Much Does The Program Cost?

Under the Forces to Flyers program flight schools must deduct $13,526 from the cost of training. This amount represents the 100% annual benefit level for the Post-9/11 GI Bill for vocational flight school training. So, if you are eligible for the GI Bill you could possibly get certified for free.

If you don't have GI Bill eligibility you will have to come up with the $13,526 yourself.

What Exactly Does This Training Entail?

This is an accelerated training program, some people have reported completing it in 4 months. According to the DOT, flight schools offering this training will provide the training necessary for up to 40 students to earn the following certificates and ratings:

  • Private Pilot Certificate
  • Instrument Rating
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Multi-Engine Rating
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) Certificate
  • CFI-Instrument (CFI-I) Certificate                                                       

After receiving a CFI-I Certificate, participants will be able to seek employment as flight instructors while obtaining the flight hours necessary to qualify for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) and become an airline pilot.

What Schools Are Participating In The Program?

Currently, this is a test program to determine the interest in a training program for veterans to become pilots. As such, there are only four schools nationwide participating:

How Do I Enroll In The Program?

Since this is a test program, vacancies are extremely limited, so don't delay in applying if you are interested. Check out the Dept. of Transportation Forces To Flyers website for details.

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