Matt McLean's dream is to fly commercial helicopters. The dream got temporarily grounded when the FAA told all flight schools to keep their aircraft in hangers. "I have a wife and three children," McLean said. "If I don't go to school, I'm out of business."
Even though the helicopters are grounded, class work at this Long Beach helicopter school is still being taught. Students like McLean are just a few hours of flight time away from getting a commercial pilot's license. But now, that's on hold. "By completely shutting us down, you're hurting a lot of people," said McLean. "These aircraft need to be in the sky."
But they're not. And that makes the FAA's decision to prohibit flight training tougher for students like John Adams to accept. "Three weeks ago, I moved my family up here," Adams said. "And if I don't get up flying, I'm going to have to get a job. I mean, I can't continue with school. There's no way unless I start flying."
Vortex Helicopters has been on the coast since the 1980s. If helicopters remain in the hanger, the flight school could suffer. Joe Sheeran runs the Long Beach flight school. He said, "Without being able to fly, basically we're not in business. We're just hoping that they let up on the flight restrictions soon."
Because if they don't, these future pilots worry that their dreams may not come true. "I budgeted money and a block of time to accomplish this," Adams said. "And if I have to sit here on the ground two, three, four, five, six (months), however long it's going to be, I can't keep holding on."
The FAA has not said how long flight schools will remain grounded.