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GREENWOOD — As older pilots retire and new flights are added every single day, the amount of air travel is expected to double over the next 20 years, which means the need for pilots is even greater now than ever before.
And students in Greenwood are learning how to become pilots through an aviation program they can complete while they're still attending high school.
And the flight and operations program at the Central Nine Career Center in Johnson County is helping to lay the groundwork for students and their future careers in aviation.
Students can learn about aviation technology, get an overview of the industry, see the current environment for pilots and what the future career opportunities will be.
Instructor Matt Edwards says there's a serious need for pilots right now, and he's hoping that some of the students in his program will someday help fill those positions.
"There are airlines right now that really are canceling flights because they don't have enough pilots so it's vitally important to train a lot of pilots," Edwards said. "The pipeline to get them to the career field is pretty long so any time we can take off that to get them into the pilot seat is that much better."
Students who complete the program at Central Nine Career Center will have nearly a full semester of credits in any aviation major they choose to pursue, so they'll already be ahead of their peers once they get to college. If they choose to fly extra during their spare time at the airport they could be even further ahead.