Frontier Airlines Now Hiring Pilots That Don’t Know How To Fly

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Once Wyoming’s most popular airline, it’s tackling the nation’s pilot shortage in an unconventional way: it’s hiring pilots who can’t fly.

Frontier Airlines, which used to serve many Wyoming communities and still has a small presence in Jackson, is dealing with the pilot shortage by creating a “farm system” where the airline recruits people who want to be pilots from scratch trains.

“We really want to provide an opportunity for aspiring pilots,” Brad Lambert, vice president of flight operations at Frontier Airlines, told Denver’s 9 News. “We want to continue to be able to control our destiny in the future.”

The airline will select 35 cadets each month to complete a two-year intensive program to teach them how to fly.

After completing the process, having enough flight hours and an airline transport license, they will proceed to operate the real aircraft.

“Our training program is not changing. You must meet all the requirements of our training program. When they come to us, they will be safe, competent pilots,” Lambert said.

Border in Wyoming

It was once said that if you want to speak to the Wyoming congressional delegation, book a weekend flight with Frontier Airlines.

Before the airline went through a series of changes and all but abandoned the state, the airlines served numerous Wyoming communities, and members of the Wyoming delegation such as US Senator Craig Thomas, Mike Enzi, John Barrasso, Reps. Barbara Cubin and Cynthia Lummis could all be spotted with the airline almost weekly.

Coy Knobel, Enzi’s former chief of staff and Cowboy State Daily contributor, said Enzi flew back to Wyoming on Frontier almost every week of the year.

“Usually he just didn’t make it three or four times a year at the weekend and it never tired him,” said Knobel.

Knobel said he only flew to Wyoming a fraction of the time Enzi came back, and that wiped him out.

But the senator had ways to minimize jet lag. One always paid attention to Wyoming time.

“His mind and heart have always been in Wyoming,” Knobel said.

cost of the program

Frontier’s training program costs $90,000, but the airline said it is offering financial assistance.

Additionally, a pilot can expect to make more than $100,000 in their first year on the job.

“It’s quite a lucrative business. Lots of good benefits, good retirement plans,” Lambert said. “It’s almost like a journeyman process where you learn your craft for three or four years before you move to the left seat. So they will be first officers for several years before moving to the captain’s seat.”

While Frontier Airlines doesn’t operate directly in Wyoming (outside of Jackson’s seasonal operations), it remains a popular choice for Cowboy State travelers from Denver International Airport.

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