As National Aviation Day Approaches on August 19, it is only one of many aviation days to celebrate
By Kathryn B. Creedy
One of the key workforce needs in the aviation/aerospace is promoting industry careers and it may be surprising just how many aviation anniversaries occur during the year providing numerous opportunities for airports, flight schools, FBOs, aviation organizations and aviation/aerospace companies to introduce themselves to their local communities and spread the word about future careers. And, perhaps, drum up some new business or an appreciation for the local airport while they’re at it.
While the labor market is strong with hundreds of thousands of jobs across aviation/aerospace going unfilled, many fear we are heading into a recession, but we cannot stop promoting aviation/aerospace careers since the cost of doing nothing is measured in the billions of dollars.
Future Aviation/Aerospace Workforce News reported last year aerospace and defense manufacturing needed 3.5 million workers by 2026 and will face a global shortage of 80 million by 2030. More importantly, automation will not solve the workforce shortage.
We need to fill the pipeline with future workers and leveraging the calendar is a great way to do it. This could be the work of the yet to be formed National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA) the subject of the recently passed National Center for the Advancement of Aviation Act of 2021 (H.R.3482), but I fear it cannot wait. The effort needs to start now.
Basic Calendar Marketing and Recruiting
Anyone watching The Today Show or any similar media will know they are driven by the calendar. In January, it is tackling the excesses of the holiday season with new diets and exercises. In February, it is Black History Month and Valentine’s Day. In March, it is International Women’s History Month and spring fashion and so on throughout the year.
The industry must take advantage of what the mainstream media is already doing by highlighting significant events and trends on the calendar. Mainstream media is already covering women and black aviators during these months thanks to airlines and aviation companies promoting their diversity bone fides by talking about black and women employees during Black History Month and International Women’s Month. But it must keep the momentum going throughout the year and there are plenty of opportunities. How about leveraging Back to School as the Boca Raton, FL, and Dare County, NC, airports did this year. (See Aviation/Aerospace Calendar of Events)
Media is also covering the chaos of the industry noting the pilot shortage but saying nothing about manufacturing or aviation maintenance technician shortages. While the aviation/aerospace trade press covers some of the events it doesn’t do a good job. For instance, General Aviation News covered the Latinas Global Aviation Festival but no one else did. Trade media like to cover the problem of workforce shortages but it is doing precious little about it which is why Future Aviation/Aerospace Workforce News was created. What the industry needs is work together to gain the attention of local and national mainstream media.
Providing Resources to Retain Interest
But events are only the beginning. We need to stoke the fire we create for aviation/aerospace careers at events by giving aspiring aviation workers the resources needed to retain their interest over time. Free online courses from Experimental Aircraft Association and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University which partnered with Women in Aviation International for MOOC courses, are a good place to start.
Smart recruiters and aviation-career promoters can link their celebration to anything on the calendar that is already being covered by the media.
I ask you – what better way to introduce people to aviation at a young age than to organize a Santa Fly-in already scheduled at many airports and flight schools who team with Toys for Tots and other nonprofits. The Space Coast of Florida has Surfin’ Santas which attracts 10,000+ annually. Why not make Flying Santa’s a national event at local airports and flight schools? Christmas and kids – a must have for any local media.
Kids naturally attract media attention for coverage of things such as what we are trying to achieve which will help us spread the word about aviation careers all year round. Media attention is piqued when we can show we are working with young people and at-risk youth.
Local media across the country are already reporting on new aviation courses at local schools and community colleges. Why not show them what else is going on in the community?
Reaching Out to Underserved Communities, At-Risk Youth
The fact is we need to reach out to disparate communities to let them know they belong in aviation because their pioneers have always been involved. We will never achieve our workforce goals without broadening the pipelines which is why airline focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities is so important.
But promoting aviation to non-traditional audiences may take a little thinking outside the box and teaming with local organizations working with youth and at-risk youth including Girl/Boy Scouts and Boys and Girls Clubs as well as teaming with local foster parent associations. At the very least get on your local community calendars.
Meanwhile, parenting publications begin planning their summer issues during late winter/spring which is when aviation camps such as those at EAA and members of the Flight Schools Association of North America should begin touting their offerings.
There are also a few days throughout the year designed specifically for hiring including National Hire a Veterans Day, National Skilled Trades Day, National Engineers Week and International Women in Engineering Day. There is even a Global Talent Acquisition Day as well as National Battery Day for those working on converting to electric aviation.
Highlighting the Minorities That Have Contributed to Aviation
If kids need to see it to be it, the industry can leverage National Native American Month in November by celebrating Astronauts John Herrington and William Pogue or Mary Riddle, the first woman enrolled in a Native American tribe to gain her pilots license.
Similarly, Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman and first Native American to gain a pilot license in June 1921 was celebrated last year by Avion Aerostar Institute working with Chicago’s DuSable Museum to commemorate the 100th anniversary, gathering Chicagoland kids at the museum to see the actual license and to raise funds so they can pursue aviation careers.
In May, Asia/Pacific Islander Month can be transformed into aviation celebrations and there are plenty of heroes to go around. The Air Line Pilots Association, which already highlights the month, noted only 2.5% of airline pilots in the United States are of Asian American/Pacific Islander decent. This year it hailed Katherine Sui Fun Cheung, the first Chinese American woman to earn her pilot license in 1932 and Arthur Chin, recognized as the first American flying ace of World War II. Hazel Ying Lee was the first Chinese American woman to fly for the U.S. military when she joined the Women Air Force Service Pilots (WASP) in 1944 while Quang X. Pham became the first Vietnamese American to earn aviator wings in the U.S. Marine Corps.
September/October is National Hispanic Month and, last year, College Park Airport in Maryland was the venue for the first Latinas Global Aviation Festival recognizing aviation pioneers who are commercial or corporate pilots, flight instructors, aviation mechanics, air traffic controllers, information technology specialists and flight managers. Latina aviators represent about 1% of the 7% women in the pilot corps. The event attracted 15 aviators including Latinas in Aviation author and light sport pilot Jacqueline Ruiz and Retired U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Olga Custodio, first female Hispanic U.S. military pilot. Also on hand were Sandra Granados and Ana Uribe-Ruiz, co-president of Women in Aviation International (WAI) Bay Area Chapter.
The Aviation/Aerospace Calendar
Aviation/aerospace has its own calendar to leverage in recruiting. (See below) Did you know, for instance, July 24 was Amelia Earhart Day, honoring the aviator and cofounder of the Ninety Nines, which posted a recognition that day on LinkedIn. The news comes as Earhart is set to be honored by Kansas which is replacing one of the two statues in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol with one of the pioneering aviator.
Then there is WAI’s 8th Annual Global Girls in Aviation Day set for September 24 as well as its conference in February which hosts a local GIAD each year at the end of its conference.
In just a few weeks – August 19 – the industry will be celebrating National Aviation Day and we are already seeing postings about it. The day was set aside by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939, who designated August 19 – Orville Wright’s birthday – as National Aviation Day designed specifically to encourage citizens to participate in activities that promote the interest of aviation.
Similarly the Western Museum of Flight in Torrance, CA, scheduled a National Aviation Day Celebration inviting people to the museum to discover the aircraft history and artifacts of Southern California’s aviation heritage as well as in-progress aircraft restoration projects.
There are a ton of other aviation museums across the world, each could hold aviation/aerospace career events. The National World War II Museum is celebrating aviation pioneer World War I Aviator Ruth Law who performed in aerial exhibitions and setting aviation records, becoming the first woman permitted to wear a noncommissioned Army officer’s uniform. Following her record for the longest nonstop flight in the U.S., she joined the war effort in 1917 flying in exhibitions to raise money for the Red Cross and Liberty Loan drives.
Museums could work with local chapters of Aero Clubs, Women in Aviation International, Experimental Aircraft Association, Civil Air Patrol and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and vice versa.
The Wright Brothers Mechanic Charles Taylor is honored each May 24, National Aviation Technician Day, while controllers are honored with International Air Traffic Controller Day on October 20.
International Aerobatics Club (IAC) set the fourth Saturday in June as National Aerobatics Day. Then there is December 7 which is International Civil Aviation Day while November is National Aviation History Month dedicated to exploring, recognizing and celebrating America’s contributions and achievements in the development of aviation. We know Germany, France, England, Brazil, Canada and others made significant contributions to aviation and they probably have their own national aviation days. Let’s get them on the calendar by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
And, of course, December 17 is the anniversary of the first flight by Orville and Wilbur while July 20 marks the anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s giant leap for mankind and National Balloon Ascension Day is January 9.
International aviation/aerospace companies can leverage their own country’s aviation achievements and workforce initiatives because it doesn’t take much to view the calendar below to find an appropriate celebration. For instance, while apprenticeship programs are relatively new to the US, the UK celebrates National Apprenticeship Week each February.
During Farnborough, Raytheon Technologies CEO Greg Hayes bemoaned the fact the U.S. doesn’t do more to promote apprenticeships as part of a strategy to gain higher education. Or companies can take a cue from Women in Aviation International and leverage its Girls in Aviation Day to have their own GIAD event.
Leveraging Industry Events
High schools, colleges/universities, flight schools and the hundreds of non-profits engaged in promoting aviation and aerospace careers should also leverage aviation conferences such as the National Business Aircraft Association, Aviation Technical Education Council, American Rocketry Challenge and Aerospace Maintenance Competition which host students.
Aviation/Aerospace companies can host local students at these major events. Centura College Vice President Joel English, who is also active in Aviation Technical Education Council, already advises aviation companies to get their branding into classrooms to make connections and build loyalty. They could do the same supporting the AOPA Foundation’s highly successful free high school curriculum if it is allowed. Similarly, aviation/aerospace companies should be scanning Future Aviation/Aerospace Workforce News’ list of hundreds of aviation-oriented nonprofits to see where support would mesh with their workforce needs.
The point is, the industry to date has worked with one hand tied behind its back when it comes to promoting aviation/aerospace careers. There is no nationwide effort and we cannot wait for NCAA. With a little creativity, innovation and cooperation, so much more can be done by working together to organize annual events throughout the year to keep aviation/aerospace front of mind.
January 9 National Balloon Ascension Day
January 16 Martin Luther King Day
Release news of your Aero Camp to Parenting Media
February 4-10 Boy Scout Anniversary Week
February 8 National Boy Scouts Day
February 19-25 National Engineers Week
February 8 National Kite Flying Day
February 11 International Day of Women and Girls in Science
February 7-9 Aero-Engines Americas
February 18 National Battery Day
Third Monday in February Presidents Day
February 22-23 MRO Latin America
February 23-25 Women in Aviation International Conference
Re-release news of your Aero Camp to Parenting Media
March 1-7 National Invest in Veterans Week
March 1-2 MRO Middle East
March 6-9 Heli-Expo
March 8 International Women’s Day
Week of March 8th Women of Aviation Worldwide Week
March 12 National Girl Scout Day
Week of March 12 Girl Scout Week
March 14-17 ARSA Annual Conference
March 26-29 ATEC Annual Conference
March 28-April 2 Sun ‘n’ Fun
April 18-20 MRO Americas
April 18-20 WATS 2023: 25th World Aviation Training Summit
April 22 International Mother Earth Day
Fourth Thursday in April National Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
April 24-27 AEA International Convention & Trade Show
First Tuesday in May National Foster Care Day
First Wednesday in May National Skilled Trades Day
First Friday in May National Space Day
First Saturday in May International Drone Day
May 5 National Astronaut Day
May 23-25 EBACE 2023
May 26 National Paper Airplane Day
May 29 Memorial Day
May 31 Autonomous Vehicle Day
June 19 Juneteenth
June 19-25 Paris Air Show
June 25-July 1 National Boys & Girls Club Week
Fourth Saturday in June International Aerobatics Club (IAC) National Aerobatics Day.
July 4 Independence Day (USA)
July 24 National Amelia Earhart Day
July 20 Neil Armstrong’s First Moon Walk
July 24-30, 2023 EAA Air Venture
July 25 National Hire a Veteran Day
National Black Business Month
August 9-11 LABACE
August 13-27 Womens World Gliding Championship
August 16 National Airborne Day
August 19 National Aviation Day
August 19-25 National Aviation Week
August 26 National Women’s Equality Day
First Wednesday in September Global Talent Acquisition Day
September 5 Labor Day
September 7-8 Helitech Expo 2022
September 9 –10 AOPA The Hangout: An AOPA Fly-In
Third Saturday in September Boys’ and Girls’ Club Day for Kids
Second or Third Week in September National Historically Black Colleges & Universities Week
September 15-October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month
September 20-22 MRO Asia-Pacific
September 24 Women in Aviation International 8th Annual Global Girls in Aviation Day
Sep 28 – Sat, Oct 1 105th Annual AOPA National Assembly
Through October 15 Hispanic Heritage Month continues
October 1 Latinas Global Aviation Festival
October 4-10 World Space Week
October 18-20 MRO Europe
November 1-3 Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association Conference
November 8 National STEM/STEAM Day
November 9-10 European Rotors: VTOL Show & Safety Conference
November 11 Veterans Day
November 12-16 Dubai Airshow
November 17 AOPA 2022 Aviator Showcase
Fourth Thursday in November Thanksgiving Day
November 25 National Native American Heritage Day
December 17 Wright Brothers Day
Throughout December Santa Fly-Ins for Holiday Season