University of Dubuque adds helicopter training program

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG TV-9) -- For more than 40 years, the University of Dubuque's aviation program has helped aspiring pilot's dreams take flight.

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"I love aviation. I fell in love with the plane and everything and how it works," said University of Dubuque Aviation Student, Kyle Booth.

Soon aviation students will have the option to choose; training in airplanes, or in a helicopter.

The University of Dubuque says they're adding the program in response to the current helicopter pilot shortage.

"I think its folks like me who are retiring at very high rates and that creates a lot of openings," said Steve Accinelli, University of Dubuque Aviation Director.

Internationally helicopter sales are up but there aren't enough licensed pilots to fly them.

"Qualified pilots are hard to find. So a United States citizen can easily get a job overseas," said Accinelli.

Here at home, Accinelli says there's a high demand for jobs that require a helicopter license and flight hours.

"We have petroleum companies flying out rigs, we have air ambulances that are growing," said Accinelli.

That list also includes crop dusting, survey work and photography.