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Students take flight at aviation summer camp


At an aviation summer camp program sponsored by Delta Air Lines, students took the controls in a flight simulator, jetted off to a military aviation museum in Ohio, flew in Cessna planes and toured Delta and UPS operations around Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The Aviation Career Education Academy in Atlanta, one of about 17 locations of the camp run by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, targets students who might want to become pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, engineers or other professionals in the field of aviation.

Madison Saunders, a 17-year-old from Dacula, said during the flight to Ohio’s National Museum of the U.S. Air Force last week that she “just thought, ‘I want to do this for a living.’”

“The flight was amazing. It was beautiful,” according to Saunders, who said she had last taken a flight when she was around 2 years old and doesn’t remember it. “I wanted to be an aerospace engineer, but I hadn’t thought of becoming a pilot. Now I want to do both.”

Other students had been selected for a two-week program aimed at culminating in their first solo flight

“I have known I wanted to fly, but I never knew how to get there,” said student Nina Shack, who lives in Kennesaw. After nights of studying to prepare for her first solo flight, she said: “I’m emotional just talking about it.”

Delta’s managing director of global diversity and inclusion Keyra Lynn Johnson declined to disclose how much the company pays for its role in the camp including a charter flight on an Airbus A321 to Ohio, but said the company’s investment is “significant.”

“The airline industry in general is looking to diversify its workforce,” Johnson said. “We realize it is more of a farming exercise than a fishing exercise. We have to grow the talent and inspire the interest at a younger age.”


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About the Author

Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.