“All four of us are career pilots — 30-plus years each — and we’re looking around and there is a rather large demand for pilots,” said Harvey Meek, team lead. “We got to thinking that it’s not really a mainstream career like doctor, lawyer, teacher, or police officer. So if a young person is interested in aviation, who do they go to? We found that a lot of times the traditional guidance counselor route does not help a young person find the best or the most comprehensive information.”
“Our aim is to introduce young people to aviation careers, including the possible options for pilots and, to a lesser extent, maintenance careers, and then let’s drill down into how you can get there, what it takes, and what are the pathways to becoming a pilot, because they are wide and varied,” he continued.
“All we have to do is plant the seed and the kids will make sure it grows,” he added.
Those first seeds were planted in two 45-minute presentations at last week’s fly-in.
The hope is that the team can take the new Young Aviators Program to other airshows around the country to inspire even more kids.
The four pilots have a wealth of experience to share about different pathways to a successful flying career.
For instance, Harvey completed an aviation program at a traditional college, then joined the military where he was fortunate enough to fly fighters. His next gig was at a foreign airline, then he landed at American Airlines.
“But Gerry Molidor had a very different pathway,” Harvey said. “He got going in civil aviation as a young man and got picked up by United Airlines in his early 20s, and that’s where he’s been for more than 30 years.”
David Monroe’s story is similar to Gerry’s, but Paul Hornick’s story is quite different.
“He was talking with his wife about buying a motorcycle, and of course, she said, “What? That’s dangerous. Why don’t you learn how to fly?’” Harvey said with a laugh. “And that’s how he got bit by the flying bug.”
“Flying for us is not a job,” he continued. “The old joke in the Air Force was ‘do these guys know they are paying us for this much fun?’”
And that’s what the four Aerostars hope to accomplish with the new Young Aviators program: Passing on their love of aviation.
“We want to bring young men and women into this profession,” he said. “We want to invite people to come to the party!”