Grayson Co. School Teaches New Airline Pilots - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Grayson Co. School Teaches New Airline Pilots

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GRAYSON COUNTY, TX -- Pilots in training from half a world away have found a home here as they earn their wings, and now the flight school has plans to expand.

County officials say the flight school is a big boost for North Texas Regional Airport-Perrin Field, and the students are not only learning how to fly, but also adjusting to living in a different country.

At the same air field where pilots trained during World War II, a new generation learns how to fly. "I was in high school when I see the airplane and think maybe I could be a pilot," says student pilot Barry Liu.

About 50 men from China are students in a new flying school U.S. Aviation Academy, which also has a larger facility in Denton, and they are here in Grayson County for a year of hard work. "The instructor will tell you what you need to do, what you should do and also what you must not do, you can't do," says student pilot Webber Tian.

The school interviews the students, and then brings them to Texas. "This is a tremendous career opportunity for each one of these students," says school president Mike Sykes. "It is a great job from them in China, and so if they are successful in going through our program, and successful at their transition in China, they have a wonderful career."

The school works with four different airlines in China to train their future pilots. The airlines send the students, who learn on small planes, with the hope of flying large passenger airplanes in the future.

"We still need some training when we go back to china for the big airplane," says Liu.

On Thursday morning, Grayson County leaders welcomed the school with $90,000 from Sherman Economic Development Corporation and the Denison Development Alliance to support hiring 30 staff members.

"When you can get the airport recognition especially like this, especially internationally, it's good for business," says DDA chairman Robert Brady.

Liu says he still has about seven months to go in his training, but this week, he got a pilot's certificate. "Our study is really hard for me, for everyone maybe,e but when we got the bars and wings, it's really exciting," says Liu.

Sykes says some of the students do not know how to drive a car when they arrive, and the Chinese version of the FAA now requires about 10 percent to fail. But many of them do graduate to become pilots, and Sykes says during a recent trip to China, he found one of his former students was a first officer on his plane.