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Oklahoma high school students attend Student Pilot Day

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Posted at 3:07 PM, Apr 06, 2023

TULSA, Okla. — Today in Tulsa, Oklahoma high school students learning aviation gathered for the inaugural Oklahoma Student Pilot Day.

More than 400 students traveled to the Tulsa International Airport to learn about various aviation careers.

Paula Kedy with the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, or OAC, was a driving force behind the event.

"There are so many needs as far as employment in Oklahoma and in the United States for pilots for maintenance workers for air traffic controllers,” Kedy said. “In every aspect of aviation and aerospace.”

The commission received an FAA 625 workforce development grant for the program.

"We need to be worrying about the industry for the future,” Kedy said. “That's exactly what we're doing. Building a workforce by working with high schools across Oklahoma."

According to the OAC, Oklahoma is #1 for the number of schools teaching the “You Can Fly” curriculum.

Mason Skimbo and Ryan Dodson are both Sophomores at McAlester High School.

They are looking into the possibility of aviation as their career.

"It's just a really cool field of work. It's interesting,” Skimbo said. “There's a lot of stuff to it. Just about anything you could think of, there's something, like a job for it. It's pretty cool."

Something Dodson agrees with.

"I came here to get a little bit more insight,” Dodson said. “I'm not completely sure of what I want to do in the future. Whether it's more mechanics side or go into the military of it. So, this will give me a good look."

Students had the chance to meet with professionals in the aviation field, including the Air National Guard.

Brigadier General Tray Siegfried was there to speak with the future aviators.

"Possibilities are endless when it comes to aviation,” Siegfried said. “Yes, amount of pilot hiring in the airlines or in the military, domestically, international, the forecast are well of 100,000 pilots in the foreseeable future. Saying that, the aircraft are in the sky we also need maintainers people to service the aircraft."

Siegfried continued that growing the aerospace workforce in Oklahoma is critical to the state's future.

The event was a collaboration between the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, American Airlines, Oklahoma National Guard, Tulsa Air and Space Museum, and Tulsa International Airport.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, visit its website here: https://oac.ok.gov/

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