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New college students explore careers in aviation

Jim Cawthon spoke to Birmingham Southern College students at his Cessna at Shelby County Airport.Jim Cawthon spoke to Birmingham Southern College students at his Cessna at Shelby County Airport.

Students starting out at Birmingham Southern College (BSC) without a declared major had a hands-on introduction to opportunities in the field of aviation Aug. 31 at Shelby County Airport in Alabaster, Ala.

The airport and members of the Shelby County Aviation Association (SCAA) hosted an event for incoming freshman that included presentations about what aviation has to offer and hands-on exposure to a variety of aircraft. AOPA provided SCAA members with information to inform the students about careers in aviation, including becoming a pilot, meteorology, airport operations, and aeronautical engineering. Students were treated to one-on-one discussions about aircraft on the flight line, including gliders, low-wing airplanes, high-wing airplanes, and tail-draggers.

“The opportunity to sit in the cockpit and have all their questions answered was a hit, and the questions did flow,” said Rick Kilgore, SCAA president and the AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer for Shelby County Airport. “The most common reaction was, ‘This is so cool!’”

BSC professors David J. Smith and Matt S. Mielke brought the undeclared-major freshman to the airport, and more than 10 airport-based pilots donated their time to help out, Kilgore said. Three FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) representatives also participated in the event.

Airport manager Terry Franklin welcomed the students, advisers, and SCAA pilots to the event, and Kilgore began the sessions with an overview of the economic impact of the airport on the area and the financial impact aviation has on the state of Alabama. This was followed by presentations by Ladde Mayer on aerodynamics, Mark Rose on the National Weather Service, Lt. Col. Scott Grant on military aviation careers, and a final presentation by Sanders Flight Training Center on opportunities to become a pilot.

Ladde Mayer gave a presentation about aerodynamics at a Birmingham Southern College aviation career event for incoming freshmen.Ladde Mayer gave a presentation about aerodynamics at a Birmingham Southern College aviation career event for incoming freshmen.

“Having the weather service, an engineer, a military pilot and a number of general aviation pilots gave the students an eye-opener of an experience in the significant number of opportunities available to students today in aviation,” Kilgore said.

At the end of the day, students were given the opportunity to have a seat in one of the Super 300 King Airs based at the airport. The pilot, Byron Farr, also a SCAA member and Shelby County-based pilot, discussed corporate flying with the students. 

September 9, 2009

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