Despite the interest in sport-pilot training, the number of pilots in the U.S. has been steadily declining for the last 20 years, and that has repercussions through all of aviation, The Wichita Eagle reported on Wednesday. Manufacturers worry that the market for their aircraft won’t be there in the future. Airlines and other operators worry that they won’t be able to find qualified pilots. And with thousands of very light jets expected to join the fleet in the next few years, the demand for professional pilots will likely grow. The trend has not gone unnoticed. AOPA, for example, has recently refocused its efforts on Project Pilot, which recruits current pilots to act as mentors to new students. The project will be a main priority in 2007, spokeswoman Kathleen Vasconcelos told AVweb. Meanwhile, the U.S. airlines are finding plenty of qualified applicants, Aviation Information Resources president Kit Darby told the Eagle, but regional airlines and foreign carriers are having a harder time. Several comments from Eagle readers offered a glimpse into the minds of non-pilots: “Lower the cost of aircraft, get rid of the red tape and give free lessons,” was one suggestion.