Area youth had a chance to look to the skies for their futures Saturday.
Aviation Career Day introduced young people to all aspects of aviation, from air traffic control to piloting the plane itself. Pilot Charles Copeland said it was a way for local people in the industry to pay it forward.
“When it comes to aviation, there are a lot of jobs,” Copeland said. “A lot of people haven’t been exposed to how you get here.”
The event, hosted by Flex Air, a Manhattan pilot instruction company, included tours of the control tower and some also got to go on a flight with a local pilots. The career day was paired with a Boy Scout aviation merit badge day.
Members of the unmanned aircraft systems, commonly known as drones, program at K-State Polytechnic brought machines for demonstrations and explained how the equipment is used. David Burchfield, a teaching assistant professor at K-State Polytechnic said he was excited about the opportunity to explain the careers available with unmanned aircraft systems, such as with agriculture or engineering.
“They don’t understand what the technology is all about,” said Burchfield. “We can help people understand the capabilities and how they can benefit society.”
The Civil Air Patrol also had a booth at the event. The organization is a civilian branch of the U.S. Air Force that assists with disaster relief, search and rescue and aerospace education. Some attending said they hadn’t heard of the group before, including Aaron Jones, who brought his son Clayton to the event.
“I was interested to see if it was something he would have an interest in,” Jones said.
Jones said he enjoyed hearing about the training opportunities for jobs like air traffic control. Clayton said he like getting to sit in side the Cessnas at the event.
Nolan Whitman said he had been curious about these kinds of careers so decided to come to the event. His mother, Daniela, said he has grown up around the military and helicopters so has been involved in aviation.
“I thought it would be interesting,” Whitman said. “I always liked aircraft.” Copeland said he hoped the day would help kids with an interest decide whether or not to move forward with their education in the field. “It’s a pretty expensive industry, so you need to be sure you want to do it,” he said. “So we can expose them to it.”