A 3 minute investment in kids & aviation!
Q: What gets a young girl or boy interested in aviation/aerospace?
A: It’s not rocket science.
This might come across as a bit of a humble brag, but I’m alright with that. After several decades in aviation, I’m still in love with airplanes and I love to spark the imaginations of young folks who very likely won’t have a direct means of engaging with those of us who work on the secure side of the airport perimeter fence.
It doesn’t have to be that way however, and if we’re going to pave the way for the next generation of aviation professionals, we’ve got to individually and collectively engage those young folks and light that spark for them. The best way to do that, hands down, is to get them onto the airport and into an airplane.
My days are pretty busy (like everyone else, I know), but the 3 hours that I spent on Tuesday touring the airport with an incredibly eager and surprisingly knowledgable 11 year old and his grandmother was undoubtedly the best investment of the week. While it’d be easy and fun to detail his adventure well beyond your attention span, let’s just say that I’m quite confident that he’ll end up working in aviation. His interest lies in air traffic control, not aircraft maintenance, but that’s alright. At least he’s not going to the dark side…that is to become a pilot. 😉
Not all of these incredibly meaningful interactions require a three hour investment of your time. Recently while boarding a flight, a young girl peeked into the cockpit of an A320 while boarding with her mom. As she started to move beyond the forward galley and into the cockpit, one of the flight attendants gently escorted her back towards the cabin but the captain quickly spotted her and graciously invited both up front for a quick look-see with the requisite photo op.
Delta Air Lines recently released a video in which their aircraft maintenance team engages young folks in the terminal with a little bit of ingenuity. While one mechanic runs through their early morning pre-departure checks on an airplane parked at the gate, another mechanic will get the kids in the terminal to say “WAKE UP, AIRPLANE!” into his/her radio, at which point the onboard mechanic hits the landing & taxi lights. Watch the video linked below, if it doesn’t bring a lil tear to your eye, check your pulse.
A three minute, no-cost investment That’s how imaginations are sparked.
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to play a tiny role in facilitating many of these interactions for kids over the years, and I hope that you’ve taken every opportunity to open those doors for kids in whatever way you can. The ROI of those small, yet meaningful interactions is HUGE and could quite possibly be the answer to the challenges that we face as this generation rolls out and the next steps in to pick up where we left off.