ROTC cadet launching a balsa-wood airplane
Roughly 1,200 high school and college students from across Washington state descended on Alaska Airlines’ maintenance facilities at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport recently to get a behind-the-scenes look at the aviation industry. More than 350 Alaska Airlines employees volunteered their time and expertise for the day.
An attendee checks out King County’s search & rescue UH-1H helicopter
The Navy brought an EA-18G Growler over from Naval Air Station Whidbey, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies brought vehicles and staff to answer questions about careers, and more than a dozen general aviation aircraft filled a hangar for students to see, and some were available for them to learn how to pre-flight, including a Piper J-3 Cub and a Cessna Caravan.
Two brand-new 737-900ERs were completely open for tours, including the cockpits. The jet in the foreground was two weeks old and still had that wonderful new-airplane smell.
“It’s all about the kids.”
Alaska Airlines pilot Allen Cassino’s succinct summation explains the singular focus displayed by the dozens of Alaska Air and aviation industry volunteers concerning showing 1,000 eager students the myriad career opportunities available in the aviation industry at Alaska Airlines’ eighth annual Aviation Day.
Raisbeck Aviation High School student Rachel Phuon takes excellent aim with a balsa-wood airplane.
The May 21 event at Alaska’s Sea-Tac Airport maintenance hangar was extraordinarily well run, and everyone I met — really, I mean everyone — seemed to be genuinely enjoying themselves, whether they were sharing information or soaking it up.
The event was co-sponsored by the Boeing Company, the Port of Seattle, the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of Western Washington. Roughly 400 Boy Scouts earned their aviation and engineering merit badges during the event.
A Boy Scout walks by an Alaska 737 at Aviation Day
Passion, dedication, and giving back to the community. These are the main things that really made Alaska Airlines Aviation Day shine. Since I have been running AirlineReporter, for almost eight years, I have met many people in the airline business and aviation. Almost all have a strong passion, but no matter where I travel and who I meet, it is hard to find people that are more dedicated than those who live and work in the Pacific Northwest.
Multiple planes on display at Alaska’s Aviation Day 2015
We have deep roots in aviation here, and I think one prime example of this is Alaska Airlines’ Aviation Day. This yearly event, which is only open to formal youth groups, allows guests to experience and learn about aviation and potential careers in the field. I was invited to this year’s event, and although there were plenty of amazing things to see and do, I was more in awe of all the wonderful people who work hard to make this event happen.
Airbus Beluga 1 sits in the morning sun
Living in Seattle, I get to see the Boeing Dreamlifter quite often. It is an odd-looking plane with an attitude that I just love. I had never been able to see its counterpart, the Airbus Beluga, and when I heard it was going to be attending Hamburg Airport Days, I was excited to get my first look.
When entering the event, I looked around and couldn’t find it, but I was assured that the plane was there — somewhere. I figured that it is not exactly the type of aircraft that can easily hide.
Sure enough, as I turned a corner… there it was. One big, bold, and beautiful plane. Not like supermodel beautiful, but a sort of beauty that… well, only an AvGeek could love.
The view from the main cargo deck, into the crown at Hamburg
As I walked around and took photos, I was asked by my Lufthansa hosts if I had any questions. “Yes, can I tour the inside?” Being the gracious folks that they were, they said that they would see what they could do. Knowing that it might be challenging to find an Airbus representative and arrange a media tour at the last minute, I kept my expectations in check. Of course I was hoping for the best.
Shortly after, I was told that we could tour the plane, but it had to be quick (like five minutes-quick). I was asked if I was still interested, all I could do was grow a big grin and say, “heck yes, let’s do it!”