Hundreds of students get taste of aviation

Published 4:04 pm Sunday, May 5, 2024

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Students from Selma, Dallas County and surrounding areas had a chance to learn about all of the different careers surrounding aviation during Wallace Community College-Selma and Craig Airport’s Aviation Day.

WCCS present Dr. James Mitchell said around 700 students from all across the Black Belt counties it serves along with all of the exhibitors who attended the event. That included representatives from the Navy, Coast Guard, Army, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, Auburn University Aviation and all of the different departments of the community college.

“We know that this is the first step towards getting students who typically would not necessarily see themselves in aviation to go through it, to get into that or see the potential industries in aviation,” Mitchell said. “And this is just a start. As I mentioned earlier during my welcome speech, this is an opportunity for these students. We will offer an aviation pathways program. It is not going to just lock into one area of aviation. Students can go to air traffic control. They can go to avionics. They can go into aircraft mechanics. They can do drone certification. So it just opens up a whole new world for these students.”

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James Corrigan, Craig Airport and Industrial Authority executive director, said this is the first aviation day they have conducted in nearly six years. The success of the event was due to the collaboration between the airport and WCCS.

“We got the facilities — you see our beautiful hangar. Wallace has the organizational structure, and they’ve got the energy to set up all the tables,” Corrigan said. “We coordinated with recruiters, the military, the institutions, civil air patrol and Goodwyn Mills Cawood. All of these organizations that wanted to influence young men and women’s lives.”

Mitchell was thankful for Craig Field to open their doors and allow them to have an event like this, and it’s because of their cooperation and the quality of facilities that they were able to have an event like this.

“Most of our training will take place right out here at Craig,” MItchell said. “Craig Field is very integral to it because you have more aviation related industry coming to Craig Field, and that’s why it made this so much easier to say that’s how we can do it. Craig Airport is very much a part of it just based upon the new aviation industry located here.”

Mitchell also said they have upgraded their technology to meet the needs of this unique program.

“We will have actual full simulators, sit-in simulators,” Mitchell said..” They’re not just talking about laptops. And that’s going to be out here as well. We’re gonna have a full simulator on our campus at Wallace.”

Corrigan hopes this is going to be the first of many aviation themed events for education.

“The objective is to expose them and let them know whether there’s a whole new world out there,” Corrigan said. “I think this venue is outstanding. I think we ought to do this more frequently and do it every year.”