Hoeven, Baldwin Introduce Legislation to Expand Flight-Training Programs for Veterans

Senators’ Bill Builds Upon $2.5 Million that Hoeven Worked to Secure for UND’s “Vets to Wings” Program

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) this week reintroduced the American Aviator Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation to expand flight-training services for veterans who want to become commercial airline pilots. This would help ensure there are enough qualified pilots in the future to continue providing safe and reliable air service to rural airports across the country.

The bill builds upon the $2.5 million in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding that Hoeven worked to secure for the University of North Dakota’s (UND) “Vets to Wings” program, which can help veterans enrolled in UND’s flight school to cover the gap for costs not included under the GI Bill and other benefits, like Federal Tuition Assistance.

“We worked to establish this veterans pilot training demonstration program to support good career opportunities for veterans in commercial aviation and help address our nation’s pilot shortage,” said Senator Hoeven.“This is a win-win, and by authorizing this initiative, our legislation will help give more certainty to initiatives like the Vets to Wings program at the University of North Dakota, better enabling this world-class institution to meet future demand for pilots while supporting our veterans.”

“Every veteran makes tremendous sacrifices to serve our country, and we owe it to them make sure that their service is honored and they are set up for success after completing their military service.” said Senator Baldwin.“This legislation increases opportunities for veterans looking to pursue flight training and careers as commercial airline pilots, meeting a real need for qualified pilots and connecting our veterans to good paying jobs as they return to civilian life.”

“The University of North Dakota has a long history of educating and training military veterans to achieve their dreams and continue serving in the aviation industry,” said Robert Kraus, Dean of UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences. “We are honored to be piloting the program at UND that not only assists our veteran students in obtaining their FAA certifications, but also connects them with leaders in the airline industry to ensure a successful transition to their professional flying career.”

The American Aviator Act would formally authorize this competitive program under the FAA to support the recruitment and enrollment of veterans at flight-training schools that have established pathways to employment with commercial air carriers, such as UND. Grant funding may be used to provide guidance and flight-training services, including additional training required to reach proficiency. The American Aviator Act is supported by the Air Line Pilots Association and the Regional Airline Association.

A summary of this legislation and the full bill text can be found here and here, respectively.