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National pilot shortage may become airline travel nightmare

ORLANDO, Fla. — The national staffing shortage crisis is affecting airline travel and causing ticket prices to climb.

One projection shows the U.S will need 34,000 more pilots over the next three years.

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In the shadow of the Daytona International Speedway, where cars routinely top 200 miles an hour, Embry-Riddle senior Jake Hallem heads toward one of the school’s Cessna Skyhawks.

With a top speed of 188 mph, the plane might be slower than a stock car, but its purpose isn’t speed; it’s to accelerate how fast Hallem can trade in the Cessna for a jet at Orlando International Airport.

Delta is recruiting Hallem, and Delta isn’t alone.

“It is noticeable when we have our career days and all of the companies come and talk to us,” Hallem said.

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Across the country, airlines are facing a pilot shortage.

A wave of age-required retirements is hitting the industry just as more people than ever are flying.

Meanwhile, years of low starting pay for pilots, coupled with the high cost and thousands of hours needed to become a pilot, has left aviation staring down a growing crisis.

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Dr. Kenneth Byrnes heads up flight training at the university.

“They have to be the right person, they have to have the right attitudes and they have to have the right experiences, and that takes time,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes said starting pay has more than doubled in the last five years. Even still, the supply of new pilots isn’t keeping up with demand.

See more in the video above.

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