Virginia Pilot Pathways Program

The FAA has awarded the Virginia Space Grant Consortium an Aviation Workforce and Development program grant focused on creating the precollege workforce pipeline for aircraft pilots. The 18-month, $474,000 project titled Virginia Pilot Pathways Program will prepare high school students for the growing demand for commercial aircraft pilots and unmanned aircraft systems pilots and operators. The project will also provide teacher professional development to prepare high school teachers to teach UAS courses.


The mission of the project is to increase and diversify participation in these pilot careers, and to support high school students to obtain the necessary certifications, flight training, and hours to pursue a career as a pilot. For the aircraft pilot workforce, this will be accomplished through providing expanded flight training through the Pathways Flight Academies (PFA) program, developing and offering an online private pilot ground school (PPGS) course for dual enrollment college credit, and providing scholarships for flight training. For the UAS pilot workforce, this will be accomplished by developing employer-aligned curriculum and teaching resources, developing and disseminating student recruitment materials, and training high school teachers who serve underrepresented and underserved students. Twenty teachers will obtain their FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate (RPC) and will receive hands-on training to prepare the future UAS pilot workforce. The project will provide teachers with classroom-ready resources to teach the new Introduction to UAS course being developed by the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE) Department of Career and Technical Education (CTE).


Project collaborators will include VDOE, Averett University, Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC), Virginia Tech (VT), Virginia Department of Aviation (VDOA), several Part 141 private flight schools, higher education faculty consultants, high school master teachers, and business/industry personnel representing Virginia’s aviation and UAS employment sectors. During the 18-month performance period, this project will result in 100 students completing PPGS, 20 additional students completing Pathways Flight Academies including ground school and flight training, at least 11 scholarship students completing private pilot flight training as a next step toward their commercial license, 20 teachers obtaining their RPC and supplies, and teaching a UAS course that will impact an estimated 300 students during the project period and thousands beyond the award period. All materials and courses will be sustained beyond the life of the grant by VSGC and partners.

Pathways Flight Academy will allow students to explore aviation career fields while learning to fly! The Commonwealth of Virginia and the Virginia Department of Aviation are both providing funding that permits the Pathways Flight Academies program to be offered free of charge to participants.

The PPGS course will be offered for workforce development credit in partnership with TNCC. The course is an approved Virginia Community College System (VCCS) course that offers 60 hours of coursework and will be offered as a hybrid course, including synchronous instructional hours and asynchronous readings and assignments.

Provides flight training for Virginia high school students through a pilot flight training scholarship program. Drawing from students who successfully complete the PFA and the PPGS course to be offered through this project, VSGC proposes to provide at least 11 high-school student scholarships, each covering up to 40 hours of flight training plus the private pilot license fee.

Increase and diversify the UAS pilot workforce by recruiting more students into the pipeline and by building high school teacher capacity to prepare the workforce. Twenty teachers will obtain their RPC and will receive classroom-ready instructional resources allowing them to prepare more than 300 high school students to obtain their RPC in the award period alone. Teachers will also be able to apply for a mini-grant of up to $2,500 through the project to procure UAS, sensors, and related supplies necessary to teach the course. Click here to download the flyer.