The Life Cycle of the Aviation Profession
Four different stories, none would by itself, qualify for a post, but together they create a nice quadrille of aviation:
As frequently mentioned here, there is a great need to continue to attract talented people to our profession. Here’s a report about a creative way to attract the next generation of aviators and aviatrixes:
“All week, North Carolina middle schoolers will get to learn the ins and outs of the aviation industry during Carolina Air and Auto Center’s summer camp.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to fly, and I’ve always been interested in plane,” said Randleman middle schooler Jackson Beane.
Throughout the week-long camp, students will have a chance to learn the ins and outs of the industry.
“We do a lot of flight simulator training, some simple aircraft maintenance, we teach them the naming of the parts, and we try to do some metal working,” said Carolina Air and Auto Center’s Director Steve Flippin.
Wade Greeson, one of the campers, hopes to have a future in flight.
“Eventually I want to become a Navy airman,” said Greeson.
It’s the type of goal organizers hope to hear.
“There’s a need right now for air traffic controllers, for professional pilots, for airframe and power plant mechanics, and airspace engineers,” said Flippin.
Flippin said his mission is to teach future flyers about the opportunities they have and the importance of the aviation industry across the state.”
Aviation loves records and has a strong fascination with history. The National Aeronautics Association is the keeper of the books, as told in this report, by AOPA, captures the tale of the changing of the guard there.
Jonathan Gaffney was hired as the president and CEO in 2007 with NAA on the verge of insolvency, and he quickly set to work cutting expenses and righting the ship.
“We were in pretty rough shape,” Gaffney recalled in a telephone interview. “People give me credit for doing this … actually, it wasn’t easy, but it was pretty clear” what had to be done.
Gaffney cut the staff in half (NAA, a nonprofit organization, now has a paid staff of three full-time and one part-time employee), moved the offices to much more affordable digs, and stopped the presses on an expensive magazine the organization had published, a large part of what had drained the operating reserves and left NAA with perhaps four or five months left before the doors would have closed.
With the expenses under control, he turned to the major corporations—Boeing, Gulfstream, and Lockheed Martin among them—that had long supported NAA, and “they all stepped up.” NAA has had balanced books ever since, and continues to focus on its three core missions: certification of aviation records, presentation of aviation awards, and representing American air sports with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
It has been, Gaffney said, a plum assignment.
“If you love the business this is the best job to have,” Gaffney said, noting it was a “very, very difficult” decision to depart.
Gaffney’s love of aviation runs deep, and prompted him to visit a Marine Corps recruiter in 1982 with an eye on serving as a fighter pilot. The recruiter, noting Gaffney’s eyeglasses, suggested another path, and he wound up putting his degree in health administration to work in the Navy Medical Service Corps, including service on the USS Nimitz, and fleet assignments. He later worked in the administration of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority as vice president of communications.
Having been around aircraft and aeronautics throughout his life (Gaffney’s father served in the U.S. Air Force), earning a pilot certificate remains very much on Gaffney’s to-do list. It will have to wait, he said, until he retires. At 55, Gaffney plans to keep working for years to come, though he is not yet sure what his next job will be.
Gaffney said that after nine years, it was time to turn NAA over to a new leader and take his leave from the demanding job of leading a very small organization with a $1 million budget that works with volunteers and organizations across the country. “They’ll bring somebody in that will make it even better,” Gaffney said. His resignation is effective Sept. 30, and was announced to the board of directors June 10.
“The entire aviation and aerospace industry are extremely grateful for the tremendous amount of skill, work, and time that Jonathan put into NAA over the last nine years,” said Jim Albaugh, Chairman of NAA, in a news release. “He has restored a very important organization in our industry and he will be missed by all of aerospace.”
It is possible that Gaffney’s long tenure is, in fact, a record, though it would take a great deal of work to certify.
“All I have are calendar dates for chief executives,” Gaffney explained. “Stored away in our warehouse are just hundreds of thousands of pounds of documents … Unless someone digs through it I have no clue.”
There was at least one other leader whose tenure spanned nine years, but Gaffney’s nine years and five months might be enough to put him at the top of that list, if anyone ever takes the plunge into all that paper.
“I’ve always wanted to set a record,” Gaffney said with a chuckle.
If the people with av gas in their veins hold their profession as a higher calling, then the National Air & Space Museum is their temple (church, mosque or other sanctuary). There’s an announcement of the reopening of one of NASM’s chapels:
The “Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall,” will officially reopen July 1 in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the its flagship building. Highlights of the Hall include the Apollo Lunar Module, the “Spirit of St. Louis,” the Mercury “Friendship” 7 capsule and the studio model of the Starship Enterprise, which will be on view June 28 for the first time since its restoration.
One of aviation’s greatest squadrons, the Tuskegee Airmen of the Red Tails, will be the focus of an event at the Montgomery Regional Airport on July 14.
What happens when the Air Force, Air National Guard, the National Park Service, Golden Eagle Aviation, the Legacy Flight Academy and the CAF Red Tail Squadron get together? Two days of FREE family-friendly events for all ages that will honor the 75th anniversary of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, America’s first black military pilots and their support personnel! Come join the fun and excitement at the Second Annual Tuskegee Airmen Legacy Open House!
On Thursday, July 14, the 187th Fighter Wing and 100th Fighter Squadron of the Alabama Air National Guard will host an Open House from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Montgomery Regional Airport.
On Saturday, July 16, visit the National Tuskegee Historic Site at historic Moton Field in Tuskegee for an Open House from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Visitors will have the opportunity to see the CAF Red Tail Squadron’s RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit, military aircraft on static display, aerial displays, skydiving, and hands-on opportunities to learn about US Air Force and other military careers while experiencing the inspirational history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Keep an eye on the CAF Red Tail Squadron Facebook page for information on how you can win a VIP experience at the event. One lucky Facebook user will receive a specially guided tour of the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Fighter Wing from the ground AND the air, along with an airshow survival kit, CAF Red Tail Squadron merchandise and more. No purchase necessary to play, just “LIKE” the CAF Red Tail Squadron on Facebook and watch for the big announcement!
Groups are welcome to attend. Please, no backpacks, coolers or pets at the July 14 event. For more information, call the event hotline at (855) TUSKEGEE (887-5343). For more information on how to join the Air Force, visit airforce.com or contact (800) 423-USAF.
This unique tribute is a partnership between the Alabama Air National Guard 187th Fighter Wing, the US Air Force Recruiting Service, the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) Red Tail Squadron, Golden Eagle Aviation, the National Park Service and the Legacy Flight Academy. Come to either or both of these free events to be inspired by the heroic determination of the Tuskegee Airmen. Join us on Facebook at Facebook.com/TuskegeeOpenHouse. Meet us in Tuskegee!Share this article: