/ Modified aug 29, 2016 6:05 p.m.

Can Tucson F-16 Training Reduce Fighter Pilot Shortage?

Plus: a preview of Tuesday's primary election; why the "digital divide" is shrinking for Tucson-area Latinos.

The Arizona Air National Guard unit at Tucson International Airport trains 25 F-16 fighter pilots a year, hoping to stem the shortage of Air Force pilots nationwide.

The military branch is about 500 pilots short of its typical force number, and the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard is affected by the reduced number of pilots.

“My day-to-day, flying the F-16 job, it’s exactly the same. I am contributing to the bigger picture, getting fighter pilots out there to protect our country," said Lt. Col. Collin Coatney, operations squadron commander for the 162nd. "From a manning standpoint, much has changed. There’s less of a pool to recruit from.”

Coatney said he now has to put more effort into recruiting instructors in order to keep a full staff, as pilots often leave for commercial airline jobs.

See the training in action in this episode of Metro Week, plus:

  • AZPM's Zac Ziegler explains what the shortage means, and what it was like to watch a training flight.

  • Aug. 30 is Arizona's primary election, which means if you still have your mail-in ballot at home, don't mail it. It has to be at the recorder's office by the time polls close on Tuesday, so the best bet is to take it to a polling place that day. Dylan Smith of TucsonSentinel.com talks about a few of the races on the ballot, and what's to come in the November races.

  • The "digital divide" between white and Latino populations is narrowing. AZPM's Nancy Montoya defines that divide, and explains what's happening in the Tucson area that has led to more Latino residents connecting to the internet.

  • What's happening on the Rillito riverbed, near Craycroft? A number of residents were concerned when they saw the vegetation being removed. Rillito-area resident Marcela Vásquez-León is worried about the habitat of many animals that lived in the riverbed and the neighbors who enjoyed observing them. Pima County Flood Control Director Suzanne Shields explains why it's a necessary action, and what could happen if the work wasn't completed.

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