Off We Go, Into Promising Careers

090602-F-2482B-038        U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Smith (left) and Senior Airman Theodore Cupp, both crew chiefs with the 525th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, do maintenance work on the system one hydraulic pump underneath an F-22 Raptor aircraft at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on June 2, 2009.  The airmen are deployed from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska.  DoD photo by Senior Airman Christopher Bush, U.S. Air Force.  (Released)

Kudos to Chapter 179 of the Experimental Aviation Association. The organization, whose members are “eager to share their passion for aviation,” is running a weeklong program for high-school students at Double Eagle II Airport.

As reported by the Albuquerque Journal, participants have “an opportunity to talk to pilots, and to learn about aerodynamics, aircraft design and navigation.” The students also attend “a workshop on riveting” and “talks on maintenance and avionics, communications and radio practice.”

Aviation careers appear to have a bright future. The Regional Airline Association avers that “the problem of pilot supply is endemic throughout the regional airline industry.” The New York Times recently wrote that a “dearth of qualified pilots is disrupting, reducing and even eliminating flights.” (Aviation economist and consultant Dan Akins told the paper: “After 35 years analyzing and following this industry, I’ve never seen anything like it — and it’s only going to get worse.”) Last summer, a Boeing forecast predicted the need for “609,000 new aircraft maintenance technicians over the next 20 years to meet rising demand.”

While the EAA’s program is not formally a manifestation of school choice, it is an example of how individuals and entities outside the government-school monopoly can inspire and inform — and direct teens toward marketable skills in an expanding industry.