|By Carmelo Turdo|
St. Louis University's Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology hosted the second annual Girls In Aviation Day October 4 at their St. Louis Downtown Airport Center for Aviation Science. About 120 students from fourteen area high schools visited with aviation industry exhibitors, sat in a variety of static display aircraft and received practical career advice from aviation professionals participating in a panel discussion. The keynote speaker during the the luncheon portion of the event was Cartiay McCoy, Corporate Communications Manager for Trans States Holdings. The event was held in cooperation with Women In Aviation International and these local sponsors: AeroNavData, Gulfstream Aerospace, Ideal Aviation, Take Flight Girls, Air Choice One, American Airlines, and the Greater St. Louis Business Aviation Association.
The high school students arrived at the Parks College hangar at around 9:00 A.M. and settled in before the first scheduled activity, a panel discussion. The five members of the panel were current or former St. Louis University students who offered insights on how they were achieving their career goals. The panel members shared their love of aviation, some from an early age, and encouraged the high school students to consider the many occupations available in the aviation industry.
Following the panel discussion, the students were invited to fly the Frasca TruFlite simulators. The simulators can be configured for single and twin-engine aircraft to match those used in the Parks College fleet. The view outside of the cockpit is presented on three high-resolution flat screens, giving the illusion of three-dimensional flight. Flight training in the simulators is concentrated on instrument training, though training in specific aspects of visual flight and air traffic control communications may also be conducted.
Several aircraft were on display outside of the Parks College hangar, and the students were invited to climb aboard and talk to the pilots. Included were a Diamond DA-20, Piper Seminole and a brand new Piper Arrow from the Parks College fleet; a DA-40 Diamond Star from Ideal Aviation; a Cessna 172 from the AeroNavData employee Daisy Aviation Flight Club; an MD-500E from the Metro Police Air Support Unit; and an Air Evac Life Team Bell Long Ranger air ambulance. Also on display was the St. Louis Downtown Airport Panther Fire Department apparatus.
Students attending the Girls In Aviation Day event visited with prominent women in the aviation field, including pilots and non-commissioned officers from Scott AFB and representatives from Trans States Airlines, Civil Air Patrol, Gulfstream Aerospace, and more than twenty local organizations providing exhibits. These aviation professionals offered encouragement, practical advice and guidance to the students in a no-pressure environment. Even as the aviation industry is in dire need of additional pilots and technicians, currently women still comprise only about 7% of the U.S. pilot population (2018 FAA data). This may be the best opportunity in generations for women to make significant inroads into this career field.
Following a lunch break, the keynote speaker, Cartiay McCoy, Corporate Communications Manager for Trans States Holdings, addressed the students. After working in the publishing, entertainment, fashion and non-profit sectors, McCoy brought her established communications skills to the aviation industry. She used her career as an example of how different career skills can be applied in aviation. Companies such as Trans States Airlines are readily recruiting pilots, technicians and support positions to meet the growing demand for commercial airline service.
"There is a place for everyone in aviation," McCoy told the students at the beginning of her presentation. "Your unique attributes, and the things that make you, you, could be an asset to this career path." She described her life journey as a child born in the inner City of St. Louis, bussed to the Ladue School District, and able to travel to Paris with her high school class. McCoy majored in media communications at Webster University, and uses those skills in her current position at Trans States Holdings. She is currently responsible for all corporate communications activities at the parent company of three regional airlines.
"There were some stories that are unconventional, but being here today, you have the opportunity to have a direct pathway," she continued, referring to her unusual career route to her current position. "You are here, you're getting the information, and you're able to have a direct pathway to a lot of different careers." She then described the jobs most in demand, such as crew scheduler, flight attendant, maintenance apprentice and technician, student pilot intern and pilot. Positions in the corporate office, inventory and other support areas are also in demand.