A new program, called Forces to Flyers, is a three-year research initiative led by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) to help veterans obtain the skills needed to become commercial pilots.

“We recognize the importance of helping returning veterans find good jobs, and helping communities find solutions for the growing pilot shortage. This shortage impacts air travel and air cargo service nationwide, but especially threatens rural access to air service. This program is an important first step in addressing both of these goals,”said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.

This demonstration program has two main objectives:

  • Assess the level of interest among military veterans in becoming pilots
  • Help American veterans who are not already military pilots to receive the training they need to become commercial pilots

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Forces to Flyers will include financial support for training interested veterans starting at private pilot license going up to obtaining a Flight Instructor Certificate. The flight training will be conducted at one of four flight schools that have been approved for the program:

  • Leading Edge Aviation in Bend, OR
  • CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Millington, TN
  • U.S. Aviation Group, LLC in Denton, TX
  • CTI Professional Flight Training, LLC in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Veterans who are interested in the program begin by contacting one of the partnering flight schools to inquire about the application procedure. All students participating in the program should have:

  • First-class medical certificate
  • Student pilot certificate
  • Letter of reference from a previous or current commanding officer, teacher/instructor/professor, or supervisor/manager


About Greg Thomson

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 7,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, and flying for a regional airline. Greg took a 5 year hiatus from flying and worked in software development and marketing. He has since returned to flying as a cargo pilot. Greg enjoys educating and helping pilots improve their professional lives and is passionate about applying technology and new methods to help with traditional challenges.