The program aims to expose teenagers to careers in the aviation industry

STOW, Ohio – As more flights take to the skies for summer travel this season, airlines continue to struggle to staff enough pilots.

CEO of United Airlines speak By 2025, there will be a worldwide shortage of about 34,000 pilots.

It comes at a time when airlines also say that the majority of their pilots are white men.

A program that hopes to change the future of the industry and is accepting applicants to the Cleveland academy this summer.

United pilot Ron McLin is the co-director of the Black Aerospace Organization’s ACE Academy, a week-long career day for students in grades 8 through high school.

“We take you behind the scenes of all sorts of different jobs: aircraft mechanic, aircraft manager, airport manager, airport engineer,” says McLin. “We need to push these kids to get jobs in the aviation industry. Otherwise, we’re going to run out of pilots, we’re going to run out of mechanics.”

The week-long program is held out of downtown Cleveland’s Burke Airport, but it includes field trips throughout the area such as right at Kent State University Airport, where students can sit in their cabins. Drive and fly in the sky and see the world at your feet.

Alexandra Johnson is a certified flight instructor at Kent State University and an alumnus of the academy.

“It seems like an industry that has shut down, but we’re really trying to foster that exposure and let students know they can do it anywhere,” she said.

She is one of many in the industry who have credited the program with helping guide her and giving her the confidence to thrive in a predominantly white male industry. .

“We want to change that face, change the way we look at aviation,” says McLin. “We have an untapped resource about women and minorities or people of color. My airline, United Airlines, is hiring 70 pilots a week indefinitely. “

“They’re hiring at an incredible rate that’s never been seen before,” Johnson said.

For Kent State student Elliott Johnson, the program helped remove the stigma of entering an expensive career path with a certificate and helped him see the reality of how he did it. in the aviation industry.

“When I started seeing a loophole that would leave a lot of pilots out of work when I graduated from college, I saw it as a great opportunity to get into the industry and make a difference,” says Johnson. . “It’s one of the best feelings in the world to fly one of these planes.”

The program here in Cleveland is set to run from June 27 to July 1 and costs $100 per student. To register, click here. Registration deadline is May 31.

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