Representatives from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said their associations are supporting AOPA's You Can Fly High School Initiative which teaches high school students aviation concepts through fun and interactive science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum.
“We think that the AOPA initiative is great,” explained Paul Ryder, ALPA’s national resource coordinator. “Together, we can build a package that can touch many more lives.”
Jim Ullmann, NATCA’s director of safety and technology, concurred, adding, “We need qualified people that love to do this job."
The aviation associations’ July 26 announcement at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, dovetails a high school youth education initiative that AOPA spearheaded. AOPA’s You Can Fly initiatives recognize the importance of building the pilot community through programs that include high school learning curriculum, flying clubs, Rusty Pilot seminars, and other pilot-support mechanisms that make flying safe, fun, and affordable.
The goal of AOPA’s You Can Fly High School Initiative is to help build and sustain aviation-based STEM programs and provide a quality workforce to the aviation industry.
The third annual AOPA High School Aviation STEM Symposium is scheduled for Nov. 6 to 7 in Fort Worth, Texas, and will bring together more than 200 educators. The effort to introduce more teens to aviation has already paid dividends in school systems from Alaska to Florida with various programs that include hands-on build projects, aviation ground schools, flight training, and more.
“We realized that by working with AOPA’s high school initiative, our individual efforts alone would be stronger if we all worked together,” said Ryder.
The group said the website AviationWorks4u.org will continue to grow in the next 12 months and should be a good resource for students and teachers exploring aviation concepts and careers. They reiterated the growing need for maintenance technicians in addition to career pilots. Ryder said the online resource and efforts in the community “would introduce aviation maintenance to students who might not want to fly.” He explained that it was “just as necessary” for the industry to maintain robust maintenance departments and air traffic control personnel as it was to have pilots to fly the aircraft.
School counselors will receive packages explaining typical aviation careers and “from there we will work with AOPA and EAA to connect the dots and make a lifelong passion for aviation,” Ryder said. “We want to see the best of the best pursue aviation.”