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Got wings, will fly

August 11, 2008
Flight schools mushroom across the United States to cater to growing demand for pilots in India, says George Joseph.

The boom in India's civil aviation sector post-2000 had a visible effect in the United States, with many aviation schools, mostly operated by Indian Americans, proliferating across the country to cater to the growing demand for pilots' licenses.

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  • Estimates predating the recent hike in fuel prices and consequent downturn in the Indian aviation industry suggest that the country will need 15,000 new pilots by 2010.

    Indian students prefer the US to similar schools in the Philippines and elsewhere, because the training is reputedly better and the number of accidents much less -- but accidents do occur. In March, Lokesh Venkat, 24, and his flight instructor Kwang Yi, 34, of Duluth in Georgia died when the Beechcraft BE76 that Venkat was piloting crashed. The plane was registered to Aviation Atlanta Inc, a flight training school based out of Peachtree-DeKalb Airport in Chamblee.

    The plane crashed short of the runway at Richard B Russell Regional Airport, located some seven miles north of Rome, and 65 miles northwest of Atlanta. 'They came in low and were circling around and crashed from about 700 feet. It was a nose-down crash. They didn't clip any trees,' officials said. Venkat was at the time engaged in multi-engine training, which among other things includes flying with only one of the two engines working.

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