by Mike McHugh, Aviation Education Coordinator
Throughout history, the aviation industry has had its ups-and-downs, typically following the rest of the economy. When the economy is doing well, people travel for business and pleasure; when people are staying home, the airline industry slows down, causing a decrease in hiring among airlines, corporate flight departments, and more. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that after every downturn the industry emerges stronger than before. I am hopeful this will be the case yet again, when we get back to a new normal after the COVID-19 pandemic. It will take some time to recover, but I believe the demand for pilots, mechanics, and other industry professionals will be even greater than before.
The North Dakota Aviation Association (NDAA), formerly the Aviation Council, has formed a committee and is working hard to provide inspiration and assistance to youth interested in aviation careers. The Aviation Career Expo will be held October 30, 2020, at the Fargo Air Museum, with high school students as the target audience. This will be an annual event, with next year’s tentatively being held at the Dakota Territory Air Museum. The Expo will have three main components: inspirational speakers, exhibitors, and scholarships.
Speakers: We plan to have three inspirational speakers, either from North Dakota or those with ties to the state. We hope they will inspire and energize the students with their experiences in aviation.
Exhibitors: Our goal is to introduce young people to the vast array of career opportunities within the aviation industry. We want to educate students on the verge of making college and career decisions about these exciting options. We plan to have representation from all over the industry, ready to share the story of the diverse career opportunities in aviation.
Scholarships: We will be awarding a multitude of scholarships to students, which I believe will be one of the best parts of the Expo. I would encourage you to consider donating to a scholarship fund, either as an individual or a business. Scholarships can be awarded as specific or as general as you would like. A specific scholarship could be to attend a certain school or college, pilot training at an FBO, or for a student pursuing a particular career field. A general one could be, for example, a $2,000 scholarship for anything aviation related.
We have found an excellent group of volunteers to help plan this exciting Expo, and we are always open to more. If you are interested in being a part of the planning committee either this year or in the future, contact Darren Hall or myself. Please spread the word about this event, as we hope to have a great turnout of young adults interested in an aviation career. If you or your business would like to donate to the scholarship fund, please contact Larry Mueller at Red River State Bank. We will provide more event information as we near the event.