Share This Article
Thirteen educators from Mountain Home High School attended class at the Baxter County Airport as part of their professional development.
Cathy Beckham, Work Based Learning Coordinator and ACME Academy Leader, describes this district-wide program as “an effort to help educators prepare students to be aware of practical career opportunities on graduation, either for more education or to be career-ready for entering the workforce.”
At the airport, local businessmen representing aviation careers described the available entry pathways to obtain aviation skills and the entry salary levels to be expected.
Businesses represented included Ozark Airworks (Les Ives), Bayird Air (Trey Haney), Baxter County Airport (Taylor Carmichael), Marion County Airport (Doug Harrison) AirEvac LifeTeam (Jason Nazarenko), professional pilots and flight instructors Kevin Crawford and Roland Kane, and aircraft builder Steve Johnson.
Teachers representing subject matter from social studies to science, math, English and even cross-sountry track, included Chris Francis (German language).
Currently hosting a 22 student/2 adult contingent from Germany visiting Bomber Land, his German club group will make an exchange visit to Germany. From his experience at the airport, Mr. Francis now aims to include learning about aviation opportunities in Germany while there.
The teachers were most impressed with the wide variety of careers in the aviation industry – how accessible they actually are, and the high level of salaries. According to the Air Transport Action Group, a global association representing the air transport industry, there are around 11.3 million people working directly in the aviation industry.
Jobs include engineers and designers of civil aircraft and components, maintenance staff, airport design and operations, air traffic controllers, meteorologists, dispatchers and many more.
From rapid growth of the industry, and retirement of older workers, huge current and future demand has developed for all these careers – without even mentioning the flying jobs (pilot, flight engineer, cabin crew) which are also in critical demand.
Then there are the pilots flying from the ground – the operators of “drones” – or unmanned aerial systems (UAS). This field is growing in unprecedented proportions as the technology for drone flight and photography is being incorporated in activities from agricultural, to law enforcement to structural engineering and design.
For those who pursue aviation skills, salaries start at comparatively high levels and can lead to a very substantial income. Aviation related engineering jobs start at annual salaries of $80-117,000, avionics and electronics technicians $83,000, meteorologists $80-110,000, air traffic controllers, $75-125,000. On the flying side, both drone and aircraft pilots can command $56,000 to start although the pathway to an FAA drone operator’s license is much quicker and less expensive than the aircraft pilots must invest in.
Starting next term there is a four-year series (grades 9-12) of aviation courses available at Mountain Home High School. Students interested should register now for the first course (Aviation I) which, when followed by the remaining three years of study includes the choice of earning an FAA drone pilot certificate or passing the FAA knowledge test for a private pilot license.