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American Airlines On Board with MISD Aviation Program

Article|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
(l-r) McKinney ISD Partners in Education Director Nancy Cowlishaw, American Airlines Manager of Pilot Career Recruiting Heather Bowers, MISD Supt. Dr. Rick McDaniel, American Airlines Director of Pilot Recruiting & Development Captain David Tatum and Sr. Dir. of College & Career Readiness Todd Young at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center near D/FW International Airport

(l-r) McKinney ISD Partners in Education Director Nancy Cowlishaw, American Airlines Manager of Pilot Career Recruiting Heather Bowers, MISD Supt. Dr. Rick McDaniel, American Airlines Director of Pilot Recruiting & Development Captain David Tatum and Sr. Dir. of College & Career Readiness Todd Young at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center near D/FW International Airport

McKinney, Texas – “We want to get plugged in with key high schools…and we want kids to know about this profession,” said Captain David Tatum, director of pilot recruiting and development for American Airlines.

Tatum, along with Heather Bowers, who serves as American Airlines’ manager of pilot career recruiting, stood near the wing of the pristinely-preserved showpiece Flagship Knoxville DC-3 at the American Airlines C.R. Smith Museum last week and discussed the state of the profession and the career path for aspiring pilots with McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel, Sr. Director of College and Career Readiness Todd Young and MISD Partners in Education Director Nancy Cowlishaw.

With large numbers of veteran pilots approaching retirement age, Tatum said, the next five years will present many opportunities for aspiring pilots to get on the career path with American.

“A 21-year-old kid could get a job at Envoy, PSA or Piedmont—our three wholly owned regionals—and on that very day when they get that interview, that could have been the last interview of their life because we have a distinct, clear path that will take you all the way to American Airlines,” Tatum said.

It requires hard work, commitment and a passion for flying, Tatum and Bowers emphasized, but the path is there.

American Airlines boasts more than 115,000 employees and last year carried more passengers on international flights to and from the U.S. than any other U.S. or foreign carrier, according to a report released in March by CBS. And, according to the American Airlines website, the carrier, in conjunction with regional partner American Eagle, offers an average of nearly 6,700 flights daily to 350 destinations in 50 countries.

Now, this giant of the airline industry is partnering with MISD. “Our partnership with American Airlines will provide our aviation students access to the largest carrier in the world,” said Young. “It is a great opportunity for everyone to build relationships and to inspire students to join the field of aviation.”

The partnership opens opportunities for representatives from American to serve on the MISD Career and Technical Education (CTE) Aviation Advisory Council, participate in aviation days at McKinney National Airport, work with students at the campus level and host special field trips to American Airlines facilities.

“I’ve been working a lot with high school counselors as well,” said Bowers, “just to give them the information, so they know what to say when they have a student that goes to them and says, ‘Hey, I think I want to try this aviation thing. I think I might want to be a pilot. What does that look like?’ So, we’re working on giving them good, valuable information.”

“We want [students] to be well educated about the profession,” Tatum said, “and we have a vested interest in the pilot thing, but we really want it to grow to even more than that. There are a lot of opportunities…We need a lot of great people, and so we know that starts at the high school level.”

The MISD Aviation Academy launched in 2011 with about 40 students. Two years later, the program had grown to about 200 students and had acquired an FAA approved flight simulator. As they’ve grown, the academy has cultivated partnerships with Southwest Airlines, the City of McKinney and Monarch Air (who provide space at McKinney National Airport) and LeTourneau University (who offer a streamlined pathway to becoming a pilot)—among others.

The Eagle’s Nest provided mentors, funds and materials for the academy’s first plane build project that is now in the inspection stage with the FAA. Once it clears inspection, the two-seat aircraft that MISD students built from the ground up under the guidance of Eagle’s Nest mentors will take to the skies. On Friday, Oct. 6, that plane will be highlighted at the Wings Over Dallas Air Show.

Things have been heading in the right direction with the McKinney Aviation Academy since it took off, and with partners like American Airlines coming on board, the program is sure to soar even higher.

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