By GLENN ROLFE, Delaware State News
GEORGETOWN, Delaware (AP) — The remnants of Hurricane Ian grounded some of the 2022 Wings & Wheels, but young people’s interest in aviation has taken off at Delaware’s coastal airport.
About 70 students from about half a dozen schools in Delaware and Maryland participated in Wings & Wheels’ Pathway to Aviation, an informational/educational program presented by the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and the Delaware Aviation Museum .
“It’s a day for you to learn what’s going on in aviation,” said Linda Price, president of Wings and Wheels and president of the Georgetown Chamber.
“The beauty of aviation is that it offers so many different career opportunities to so many people. It’s about opportunities and options for everyone,” said retired Air Force pilot Ron Covais, director of the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation. “And it’s not just about being a pilot. It’s all aspects – airport operations, airline management, security, mechanics, meteorology. You name it. Everything you want to do, somewhere is here. And were just getting started. The options go on forever and ever.
“It’s just not being a pilot. It’s just not being a flight attendant,” said Lt. Col. (Retired) Michael Hales, director of aviation programs at Delaware State University. “It’s not just about being an aircraft maintainer. There are drones. There are all kinds of things you can do for a career.
The drones caught the eye of senior Bryce Bowe, among the Sussex Tech students in attendance.
“Honestly, what intrigues me the most are drones,” Bryce said. “I really like drones. I’m not really someone who wants to fly, but I wouldn’t mind that. I’m mostly focused on the ground crew, like getting the plane off the ground – maintenance and all. I thought it was an exciting opportunity to come here today.
Lily Zorn’s plane ‘crashed’ while she was flying a flight simulator in Delaware State University’s vendor area. The Sussex Academy freshman is eyeing a career in aviation. At present, however, she doesn’t know what it could be.
“I’m interested in aviation. Being a pilot is interesting but…” Lily said. “I had a lot of fun today. It was really cool trying to fly the plane, even though I crashed. It was still cool to try it out.
Students have heard of many vendors. This included representatives from Delaware State University, Delaware Technical Community College, Air National Guard, Piedmont Airlines, Dover Air Force Base, Lockheed Martin, the new Ocean Aviation Flight Academy now based at the county airport, and among others Aloft, whose manufacturing/aviation-related operations bordering the airport grounds employ approximately 200 workers.
Scott Simon, Director of Del Tech’s Aviation Maintenance Program, presented the college’s mechanics program based at the airport.
“If you have an idea or an idea to become an aircraft mechanic, it’s five semesters. That’s our whole program – five semesters. And you not only end up with a job, but you have a career that is going to take care of you for the rest of our lives,” Mr. Simon said. “Ask any of the airlines here what their current demand for technicians is. Everyone is scrambling to try to get people. It’s a great time to consider a career in aviation maintenance.
Ocean Aviation Flight Academy, a professional pilot program, has just opened at the airport. Chief flight instructor Michael Freed said it was a three-year program, with training in the first year followed by two years as a build-time instructor. “Meanwhile, people like Piedmont and some of the other regions – and I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re talking about majors in the next two years – will recruit you as if you were the Heisman Trophy winner,” Mr. . Released.
Highlights of the event include the arrival of the Delaware State Police helicopter and a US Coast Guard search/rescue helicopter.
The Wings & Wheels youth aviation component has changed gears in recent years. It started about eight or nine years ago by initially exposing students to ideas and thinking about aviation.
“We have transitioned the program to what we call Pathways to Aviation,” Mr. Covais said. “The idea was that we could start showing you pathways so that you can work your way to that.”
Sussex Tech sophomore Leilani Stoa’s future plans are literally up in the air.
“I just like being around airports and being around planes. It’s very interesting,” she said. “A job is supposed to be something you have fun doing, and I I feel like I would have a lot of fun doing this as a career, plus I’m making money at the same time.”
His hope is for something “up in the air, that’s for sure. My hopes are to be a pilot. said Leilani.
Mr. Covais also shared information about the EEA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Young Eagles program, which over its 30-year history has been dedicated to providing young people ages 8 to 17 with their first free ride on a plane.
This caught the attention of Noah Sammons, a first-year Coast Guard Junior ROTC member from Sussex Tech. “And I’ve always been interested in flying airplanes. Today gave me the opportunity to not only watch some things, but also told me about the Young Eagles program,” he said. “I love that.”
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