Commercial pilot shortage can find some relief in Crestview (VIDEO)


Emerald Coast Aviation flight instructor Mike Pahel, left, talks with John Hall and Brad Bien about the company's newly acquired twin-engine Beechcraft B-55, back.

BRIAN HUGHES / News Bulletin
Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 10:50 AM.

CRESTVIEW — Self-described "airport bums" John Hall and Brad Bien ran their eyes lovingly over Emerald Coast Aviation's newest fleet acquisition, a Beechcraft B-55 "Baron."

"Oh, I like that airplane," Hall said.

The aircraft enthusiasts and pilots' reaction was music to flight instructor Michael "Mike" Pahel's ears. The Crestview Bob Sikes Airport fixed-base operator recently leased the twin-engine aircraft for its flight school and for private pilots to rent.

WATCH: Video of Mike Pahel simulating a Beechcraft engine failure in the Redbird simulator>>

"It will offer more training opportunities in Crestview," Emerald Coast Aviation President Jonathan Dunn said.

The country is experiencing a shortage of commercial airline pilots, resulting in some carriers canceling their flights, Dunn and Pahel said, citing a Wall Street Journal report.

Students who train on the Baron can qualify for multi-engine pilots' certification, a prerequisite for flying commercial aircraft.

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