It Takes a Community to Promote Aviation

By Scott Spangler on December 21st, 2015

Promoting aviation to ensure its future viability and growth is something important to most of us who are involved with it personally or professionally. Individuals and organizations have promoted and pursued programs dedicated to inviting newcomers to the fold, and the results have often fallen short of those promised. Yes, there have been a number of one-on-one success stories, but the challenge is making this successful personal approach work on a larger scale.

The Raisbeck Aviation High School, a leader in science, technology, engineering, and math education is a worthy model for all to consider because it unites aviation’s many communities in pursuit of a common goal. Founded and operated by Highline Public Schools (District 401), RAHS serves 27 different school districts in the Washington’s Puget Sound region.

Its campus is located at Boeing Field’s Museum of Flight, making it the only aviation themed college-prep school that shares resources with an aerospace museum. And it receives an inspirational assist from the 200 or or so aviation related businesses that surround the school. But it goes beyond that, said Steve Davolt, RAHS’s coordinator of work-based learning. “Mentorships and internships have been an integral part of the schools since it was started 12 years ago.”

Mentorship pairs an RAHS student with an area aviation professional, he continued; both individuals make a one-year commitment, but many of them continue three or four years, until the student graduates. Every summer, nearly half of the 425-member student body participates in a 10-12-week internship, 60 percent of which are paid.

The internships run the gamut of freshmen getting their first experiences outside the home to going to work at Boeing, which ran 14 internships at its Seattle-area facilities, said Davolt. “We had 21 kids on FAA internships,” and others were at Boeing Field itself.

“Connecting and inspiring the next generation of aerospace professionals is our mutual goal,” says Bruce Kelly, RAHS principal/CEO. Realizing this goal is goes beyond mentorships and internships to a robust roster of scholarships that seem to embody the same community-wide focus.

Take, for example, the two scholarships each year by the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association; since 2009 it has raised more than $50,000 for the awards at its annual charity golf tournament. To be eligible for the scholarships, seniors must continue their education in some facet of business aviation, which seems only fair, considering the sponsor. But “some facet of business aviation” takes on fuller meaning in the scholarship information packet:

“The infrastructure required to support business aviation is vast. Relevant areas include, but are not limited to, the designing, manufacturing, brokering, educating, crewing, maintaining, managing, insuring or legally representing the business aviation community. Applicants shall produce an essay of 300 to 500 words showing their interest in this field and how they feel their chosen education path will contribute to the growth and viability of business aviation into the future.”

Not every locale is so rich in aviation resources like Seattle, but the model still works for a relationship between a school district, the airport and businesses that serve it, and the aviation associations whose members give it life. As RAHS has shown, aviation’s future, and the future of the individuals who will make it happen, are better served when members of the community pool their contributions, whether they be large or small, in pursuit of a common goal that benefits all involved. –Scott Spangler, Editor

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.

Subscribe without commenting