Next generation of pilots training in Denver

DENVER -- The next generation of commercial pilots is soaring into their careers thanks to Metropolitan University of Denver’s Mile High Flight Program.

Every month, about 30 students from around Denver meet and learn about a different part of the aviation and aerospace industry.

They’ve been to the University of Colorado and the Air Force Academy and are headed to United Airlines training center at Denver International Airport soon.

On Saturday, they were in flight simulators at Metro State’s campus off Seventh Street.

“I’ve been flying before and it’s just the most amazing experience,” said Tai Green, a high school sophomore. “I love the feeling. I love the thought of being in control of the airplane and taking myself places I never thought I’d be able to go.”

Andrea Martinez was once in the Mile High Flight Program and never thought she could become a commercial pilot.

“Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a pilot, but in Columbia it’s mostly for guys,” Martinez said.

But once she moved to Denver, the program helped her career soar. Now Martinez is a United Airlines 737 first officer.

“I can look back and if it wasn’t for all the mentors that I had, back in my day, I wouldn’t be who I am,” Martinez said.

Programs such as the one at Metro State are imperative.

The commercial aviation world is on the brink of a massive pilot shortage. One study from Boeing estimates airlines worldwide will need 637,000 new pilots in the next two decades.