The American Airlines Pilot Recruiting and Development team is awarding Flight Education Grants to high schools across the country in an effort to increase and diversify the pilot population.
More than 100 high schools applied, and 16 schools across the country, as well as the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), will receive a total of $350,000 to help enhance aviation programs. Schools exclusively associated with AOPA’s You Can Fly program were eligible to apply for a grant. The organization’s ultimate goal is to help make aviation curriculum accessible and free to high school students across the nation.
“These Flight Education Grants help prepare our youth for future pilot careers,” said Brad Morrison, Manager of Pilot Career Recruiting at American. “The schools that were selected have the most innovative ideas of how to advance their aviation programs, and providing grants of up to $25,000 to each school will give their students access to valuable curriculum to help them develop into some of the best pilots in the industry. This will ultimately help fill the void in the not-so-distant future, as nearly half of the pilot population in the industry prepares to retire within the next 15 years.”
Last year, high schools submitted proposals detailing how they plan to use the funds to further the mission of growing and diversifying the pilot pool. The schools that were chosen had the most effective and forward-thinking strategies. For example, Corona High School in Corona, California, presented plans to use the funds to create a mobile virtual reality simulator lab that will travel to the school district’s elementary and middle schools. The goal is to provide a fun, interactive aviation experience for younger students to get them excited about careers in aviation and potentially interested in enrolling in the flight program at Corona High School.
Within the next couple of months, American will visit all of the recipients to present a check for up to $25,000, including:
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA)
Winter Haven High School — Winter Haven, Florida
Southwest ISD — San Antonio, Texas
San Jacinto Valley Academy — San Jacinto, California
Provine High School — Jackson, Mississippi
McGavock High School — Nashville, Tennessee
Lyons Township High School — Western Springs, Illinois
Karnes City High School — Karnes City, Texas
Hollenstein Career Tech Center — Fort Worth, Texas
Greenville Tech Charter High School — Greenville, South Carolina
Flabob Airport Prep Academy — Temecula, California
Countryside Academy — Benton Harbor, Michigan
Corona High School — Corona, California
Cascadia Tech — Vancouver, Washington
Assumption High School — Louisville, Kentucky
Aspen High School — Aspen, Colorado
Anderson Prep Academy — Anderson, Indiana
To date, American has awarded more than $1 million in Flight Education Grants.
As the demand for pilots continues to grow, American remains committed to addressing that demand by participating in various initiatives that help inspire and encourage youth of all backgrounds to explore a career in the flight deck. In addition to the Flight Education Grants awarded to high schools, American also launched its Cadet Academy in 2018. The Cadet Academy provides an opportunity for future pilots to become first officers at one of American’s three wholly owned regional carriers, with a flow-through path to American to continue their career.
American is also involved in programs that focus on introducing aviation and STEM to young girls. Girls Rock Wings, a program developed by Sisters of the Skies, Inc., helps empower African American girls to think big and consider a career as a pilot or other aviation fields.
These and other initiatives are helping to develop the next generation of aviators, providing opportunities to youth who may not have considered, or had the opportunity to explore a career in aviation otherwise.