Opinion: Aviation Day offers unique opportunities for local students

Published 10:54 am Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Selma has a rich history of aviation at Craig Airport. The airport on the former military base was a hub of activity all the way up until the 1970s, when the federal government closed the base. 

While the base is no longer active, Craig Airport has redefined its purpose over the years and its still a vibrant part of our community. One of those redevelopment opportunities has been to make aviation-related classes available to the students of Selma and all throughout the Black Belt.

That’s why this year’s Aviation Day was probably the best way to showcase that facility to hundreds of students in the coverage area of Wallace Community College-Selma to perhaps spark an interest in aviation for local high school students.

Email newsletter signup

All of the credit goes to the staff of Craig Airport and WCCS for putting on the event. It was a great show of cooperation and synergy between the two institutions. 

“We’ve 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,” Craig Airport and Industrial Authority executive director James 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.”

WCCS President James Mitchell said the focus on aviation didn’t end with the aviation day.

“As I mentioned earlier during my welcome speech, this is an opportunity for these students,” Mitchell said. “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.”

There is a tremendous demand for new pilots, air traffic controllers, mechanics and every job connected with aviation. And it will only increase as more of those pilots and traffic controllers age out of the business. It’s a business where we need new and younger faces, and right now, very few are pursuing those careers, careers that will give young workers a good living plus benefits.

It’s important to to see Craig Airport and WCCS working together to attract more aviation workers. Hopefully, there will be some students who decide to pursue those good-paying jobs. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.