By Ralph Hood

I have been to the mountaintop and seen the other side!

I have been an aviation writer since 1986. As such, I was well aware that there is a shortage of pilots and aviation mechanics. I figured I was an expert on the subject.

Then I went to a meeting last week and found out the shortage of aviation professionals is far more amazing than I thought.

A little history…

When I first met Richard Blevins, he was head of training at the Bell Helicopter plant in Piney Flats. He is now head of the aviation department at Northeast State Community College. He is a fine man.

Blevins held a meeting last week on the demand for aviation professionals.

Y’all, I had no idea!

Blevins showed us facts and figures about the opportunities for careers in aviation. He spoke in terms of thousands of jobs available—even hundreds of thousands.

Blevins also pointed out that the southern United States are leaders in aviation employers. Our young people won’t have to move far to get a job—a good job—in aviation.

On the other hand, Blevins explained that China is trying to lure pilots from all over the world by offering them over $300,000 per year. Yes, I really did say hundreds of thousands of dollars per year—plus benefits! They are also luring aviation technicians/mechanics for big bucks.

Blevins gave us the figures and the source of the figures. The numbers are flat-out amazing. The shortage may not last forever, but it will last for decades.

If you know a young person hunting a good career, tell him/her about aviation.

Now, just for the fun of it, let me tell you a little story about Richard Blevins…

When Blevins was in charge of training at Bell Helicopter, he showed me a brand-new helicopter. The price of that beautiful helicopter was, of course, way, way out of my range. I told Blevins that if I ever won the megabucks lottery, I’d love to buy one of those helicopters.

Mr. Blevins responded, “If I ever win that lottery, I want to use it to help young people get a good education.”

I wish we had more people like Richard Blevins.

Please send comments to ralph@ralphhood.com.