U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin visited Fox Valley Technical College in Oshkosh to tour their flight training school and announced her bipartisan American Aviator Act to increase opportunities and expand flight-training services for veterans to become commercial airline pilots, which she is reintroducing with Senator John Hoeven.

“America’s veterans have bravely served our nation and we have a shared responsibility to make sure their service and sacrifice is honored,” said Senator Baldwin. “Our veterans have also earned every opportunity to be productive and successful after completing their military service. This legislation increases opportunities for veterans looking to pursue flight training and careers as commercial airline pilots. We have a real need for qualified pilots and if we make the training more available to veterans, we can provide them with a good paying job.”

The American Aviator Act will authorize grant funding through the Federal Aviation Administration to support training opportunities for veterans who are not already military pilots. Veterans participating in the program will receive flight training necessary to become a commercial pilot and receive other certifications, including to work as a certified flight instructor. The legislation helps ensure there are enough qualified pilots in the future to continue providing safe and reliable air service to rural airports across the country.

Fox Valley Tech currently offers flight-training for veterans to become certified airline pilots and works with Air Wisconsin and Appleton Airport to put more individuals on the path to successful careers as pilots. Baldwin’s reform would build on this model to ensure that more veterans in Wisconsin and across the country could pursue this career path after completing their military service. Flight-training schools that have established pathways to employment with commercial air carriers are eligible for federal grants to recruit and enroll veterans for flight training. Grant funding may be used to provide guidance and flight-training services, including additional training required to reach proficiency. Grants may also be used to provide tuition, books, training materials, equipment and to cover the cost of a private pilot license.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin also secured $1 million in federal funding to support flight-training schools looking to expand and serve more veterans. The funding was included in the Fiscal Year 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which passed the Senate Appropriations Committee in September. The Appropriations legislation will next go before the full Senate for a vote.

Support for the American Aviator Act includes Fox Valley Technical College, Air Wisconsin, Appleton Airport, the Air Line Pilots Association and the Regional Airline Association.