Patrick Evans Jr sits with his mother, Kateri Evans, in the cockpit of a plane belonging to one of the Black Pilots of America who flew into Craig Airfield for Aviation Day. This was the inagural Wallace Community College of Selma Avaition Day, in hopes to spark interest in aviation in the community for their upcoming aviation program. -- Ashley Johnson

Craig to build interest in aviation takes off

Published 8:16pm Monday, November 12, 2012

More than 250 area residents and others from surrounding counties pulled into Craig Field Saturday to learn a little more about aviation. Parents accompanied children of all ages and there were several ROTC groups that came out as well.

“I think this is the first time many of these kids have had the opportunity to see a plane up close and personal,” Dr. Millicent Woods, coordinator for the event with Wallace Community College, said. “The main goal of today was just to spark the interest and get people talking about aviation.”

The children were able to sit in aircraft cockpits, see remote controlled aircraft and helicopters and, as the grand finale, see a plane take off and land on the Craig runway.

Representatives of Black Pilots of America came to the Craig Airfield and let area students view inside the planes and talk with them about being a black pilot.

John Hicks Jr., president of BPA, was given a key to the county by Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard and a key to the city by Selma Mayor George Evans.

Hicks showed a presentation to the crowd in an airplane hanger about being a black pilot, something that president of Wallace Community College, Dr. James Mitchell, said would be helpful to the Selma-Dallas County economic development.

“We really wanted to get the community involved and foster some interest in aviation,” Mitchell said. “We have this outstanding airport here and we are trying to recruit aviation related industry. We thought what better way to do that than to get people out here who have never even seen the runway and taxi, but have lived here all of their lives.”

Both Mitchell and Woods said Wallace Community College is now developing aviation programming so they can bring more aviation-related industry to the area.

“Next we will start offering some courses in early fall of 2013. We will be looking into getting aviation management, air traffic controls courses — so we do hope that will be next,” Woods said. “We will continue to have [Aviation Day] occur every year and it’s going to become grander and grander.”

Mitchell emphasized he wants students to know aviation is a career path, and it is a career path that is growing in Alabama.

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