DALLAS — As the airline industry stares at a looming staff crisis in the years ahead, a not-for-profit organization in Michigan has decided to take action.
Flight Path is a charity based at West Michigan Regional Airport (BIV) that provides aspiring pilots with ‘Flight Nights,’ which allow middle and high school students to experience what it’s like to fly an aircraft.
The events are held four times a month and begin with volunteers giving a brief aviation history lesson before getting technical and sharing some of the basics about the controls used in a light aircraft, as well as taking a tour around parked aircraft in a hangar.
The icing on the cake is when the youngsters get to fly one of the charity’s four desktop simulators, one of which uses immersive Virtual Reality technology.
Sharing a Passion
Since the project’s beginning about 18 months ago, over 650 children have taken part. Flight Path President Jeff Voss told Michigan news outlet Wood TV, “We just want to share the excitement and fun we have because someone did that with us when we were young.” He added that the reward for his efforts is seeing young people grow from their interactions with the charity and decide to pursue a career as a pilot.
With the current pilot shortage in the United States expected to worsen in the coming years, encouraging young people to pursue careers in aviation is critical. Volunteers from a variety of aviation backgrounds, including military pilots and a retired FAA air traffic controller, run Flight Path entirely.
According to the organization’s website, future plans could include providing a skills assessment and mentoring for those interested in pursuing a career as a pilot, but such initiatives are dependent on the number of volunteers who participate.
Flight Path also works with STEM Flights, a non-profit that pairs students with volunteer pilots to give them real-world flight experience. The Flight Path website also includes a few resources for information on all facets of aviation
The charity can also directly connect with aviation professionals, research a career in aviation, or find groups and forums around the country that share your specific interests. Here are two aviation scholarship links related to aviation scholarships:
- AOPA https://aopa.org
- AVFUEL/Sheltair https://www.avfuel.com
Featured Image: Flight Path via Facebook