Thirty Richmond County high school and middle school students got a “behind the curtain” look at how airport workers do their jobs during Augusta Regional Airport’s Aviation Career Day, which is designed to inspire an interest in aviation-related jobs.
Born out of a partnership among the school system, the airport, Aviation Augusta and Standard Aero, the tour is designed to appeal to students considering careers in science, technology and math. Laurie Smith, the airport’s communications manager, said getting youths interested in aviation as a career is “incredibly important” as the current generation of workers begins to retire.
“We held our first Aviation Career Day in March of this year, and it was a huge success for us. The feedback we got from teachers really encouraged us to host another event,” Smith said. “It’s really important to expose students to aviation. Our applicant pool is shrinking, and many positions aren’t filled quickly. This is our way of helping end that trend.”
Students from Pine Hill Middle and Cross Creek High schools visited the airport’s control tower, fire station and Standard Aero maintenance bay during the tour.
The students examined firefighting equipment designed to store 1,000 gallons of water, climbed into the cockpit of a Cessna 172 and discussed aerodynamic principles with flight instructors.
The volunteers working with the students said they enjoyed describing their daily routine.
Capt. Jeremy Kendrick, an airport firefighter, said the event was one of the best ways to expose youths to aviation careers.
“Many people don’t realize how much variety we have in this industry. We have public safety, marketing, logistics and maintenance jobs here, and all of them are very interesting and technically demanding,” Kendrick said. “We hope that this changes some students’ mindsets and gets them thinking about going into aviation as a career. Many people don’t get to see how much work goes into an airport,
and I hope this gives the kids an idea of all of their options.”
Teacher chaperones escorting the students also praised the event. Pine Hill Middle social studies teacher Darnell Grainger said she learned just as much as her students during the career day.
“This is a great opportunity for them. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know how aviation works,” Grainger said. “Hopefully, some of our students might get the inspiration to enter this field. It’s good for their future.”