COMPTON, Calif. (KABC) -- Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's trip to Southern California included a visit on Thursday to Compton/Woodley Airport, where he discussed funding for U.S. airports and efforts to diversify the nation's workforce of pilots.
A recent study showed that only 3.9% of pilots nationwide are African American.
Buttigieg on Thursday toured the non-profit Fly Compton, which is training predominantly African American kids ages 8 to 18 to become pilots through the use of a flight simulator, weekend classes on Zoom, in-person flying lessons, using their fleet of planes.
In an interview with ABC7, Buttigieg pilots should look more like the people who are onboard their planes and that programs like Fly Compton will help address the pilot shortage.
Earlier in the day, at Los Angeles International Airport, Buttigieg announced that $50 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been earmarked for the airport and $10.6 million is will go to Long Beach Airport.
The Biden administration is giving nearly $1 billion to 85 airports to expand and upgrade terminals and other facilities, using money approved in last year's huge infrastructure bill.
The money will go toward increasing passenger access, replacing aging infrastructure, and improving energy efficiency.
Buttigieg said the projects will help meet future demand for travel and make flying safer and more efficient.
"We should be proud of our airline experience, our airports and our aviation system," Buttigieg told ABC7. "After all, we're the country that brought aviation to the world. We should have the best experience. And, with some of this funding, people are going to be able to spend less time at the airport. Right at LAX for example, today we announced $50 million dollars that's going to help improve the road in, o you will spend less time in that horseshoe dropping somebody off and picking somebody up."
The grants announced Thursday are the first installment of $5 billion for airport projects that were included in an infrastructure bill that Congress approved and President Joe Biden signed last November.