Artillery: August 10, 2004


For reasons not fully understood, the U.S. Navy has seen its pilot shortage disappear since September 11, 2001. In early 2001, the navy had serious morale problems, and shortages, with its 10,000 aviators. Both problems were linked to the aftereffects of the 1994 Tailhook scandal, and subsequent witch hunt. In 2000 and 2001, about 500 pilots a year were resigning, and qualified new people werent coming forward to take their place, or to replace the several hundred who retired each year. Things looked grim. Then along came the war on terror. A combination of patriotism, and shrinking job prospects in the commercial aviation industry, made it more attractive to stay in the navy, or join. The wartime atmosphere also expelled much of the Tailhook inspired political correctness. The number of pilots resigning fell by more than half. Not only were there enough pilots to fill all the active cockpits, but there was not a surplus. This was good, because when the situation is tight, aviators dont get much opportunity to get additional training and education. Without those courses at the war colleges and postgraduate schools, its harder to get promoted later in your career. Which was one reason more good people were getting out before 2001. Every cloud does have a silver lining.


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