Flex Air Launches Civil Path To Wings Cadet Program Amidst Growing National Pilot Shortage To Help Aspiring Aviators Qualify For U.S. Air Force Service

  • June 20, 2022

The new program will prepare student pilots for the rigorous military screening process through comprehensive flight training, skills-focused interview preparation, and career coaching, all without a commitment to serve until accepted as a pilot by the U.S. Air Force.


(MANHATTAN, KS) – June 21, 2022 – Flex Air, one of America’s leading Part 61 flight training academies, today announces its Civil Path To Wings (CPW) Cadet Program, a new offering that will help aspiring aviators qualify to serve in the flight deck of United States Air Force planes on an accelerated timeline. A growing national pilot shortage, already severely impacting airlines around the country, is also jeopardizing the U.S. military’s recruiting efforts. Flex Air, a veteran and minority-owned flight school, will help mitigate this issue through its new class-defining Cadet Program, where students can learn to fly without a commitment to serve until conditional acceptance as a pilot by the U.S. Air Force. Extra emphasis is placed on creating more equitable skies for all through Flex Air’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, with scholarships available to applicants from underrepresented, minority, and marginalized communities. 


Upon acceptance into the Civil Path To Wings Cadet Program, Flex Air students will earn the civilian ratings required to qualify for direct entry into the U.S. Air Force’s Civil Path to Wings program. The program will also meticulously prepare Cadets for the Air Force’s competitive screening and selection process through a series of STEM-focused (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) career mentorship classes and personalized one-on-one coaching sessions. Once fully trained, Cadets will interview for available pilot positions at the Air National Guard and Reserve units, but are not commissioned to serve in the military until accepted into these competitive Air Force pilot programs, where they proceed directly to Advanced Training. This flexibility allows future pilots to retain options in both civilian and military career paths. 


“The Air Force is struggling to recruit good talent and Flex Air’s Civil Path To Wings Cadet Program will help change that by giving qualified aspiring pilots from all walks of life intensive skills-based training,” said Paul Wynns, CEO of Flex Air and a veteran U.S. Navy flight instructor. “Underserved and poorly represented communities around our nation are filled with people of exceptional character and skill. Our program will help them compete for, and earn, coveted pilot billets in the ranks of our esteemed Air Force and Air National Guard.” 


Flex Air intends to train 200 candidates in its new CPW Cadet Program by 2026, with at least 50% of them identifying as female, LGBTQ+, and/or BIPOC. Scholarship opportunities can be applied for through Flex Air and its partner organizations and special financing is also available.  Students of Flex Air’s existing SkillBridge program are also eligible to become Civil Path To Wings Cadets. SkillBridge, launched in 2018, allows active servicemembers to depart non-flying military billets to train as Cadets while retaining full active-duty pay and benefits for up to 180 days.

“Flex Air’s foundation of success in the commercial pilot market puts us in a uniquely qualified position to help Air Force commanders meet their recruitment targets,” says Charles Copeland, Flex Air’s Founder and CPW Cadet Program Director. “We’ll produce not just highly qualified pilots, but a generation of future Air Force pilots who are more diverse than any generation that’s come before them.”

Students and aspiring aviators interested in applying for or learning more about the CPW Cadet Program can visit https://www.civiltowings.com.


About Flex Air

Founded in 2016, Flex Air is an award-winning veteran and minority-owned Part 61 flight school with training bases in Manhattan, Kansas and San Diego, California. As the most awarded flight school in the midwest by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Flex Air has trained over 400 students and 100 veterans to become highly qualified aviators, launching successful careers across the airline, private, and military sectors. 


Flex Air is a leader in flight training, proudly earning the following distinctions:  

  • Named Military Friendly for students and staff in 2022
  • Recognized as a Distinguished Flight School by AOPA
  • The highest production rate of Certified Flight Instructors of any flight school in Kansas 
  • Launch customer for the electric eFlyer2 training aircraft; a more efficient, quieter and safer airplane


With existing programs like SkillBridge and One Crew, a mentorship program with a graduation rate twice the industry average, Flex Air remains a leader in innovation within the flight training industry. Its commitment to diversity and inclusion ensures more equitable and representative skies for all.

To learn more about Flex Air or to become a student, visit https://goflexair.com.