My name is Ashley, and last weekend, my son Cooper and I attended Denver Aviation Discovery Day hosted by Southwest Airlines at Sheltair Aviation. Students attending the event could learn about aviation career opportunities through hands-on activities and hear from aviation professionals throughout the industry. The event was so much fun, and I was excited to see students from around the Denver community gather to learn about pursuing an aviation career when they grow up.
Students and volunteers at Aviation Discovery Day. Photo by Priscilla Yecora, Public Relations & Community Specialist at Sheltair AviationCooper has been interested in aviation for as long as I can remember. Since I work at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, where Southwest held the event, he’s exposed to aviation often. Now that he’s older and can do more, he gets excited about events like this. At the end of the event, I asked Cooper what his favorite part was, and he said, “The highlight of Aviation Discovery Day was the mechanic station. The aircraft maintenance technicians brought out parts from a 737 and explained the importance of each of them. Since I’ve been assisting in the maintenance facility on the airport grounds to earn flight time, that activity helped me understand what goes on behind the scenes and how much work mechanics do to get planes ready for flights. It was such an amazing experience!” I was glad to hear that was his favorite station. He thrives in a hands-on, fast-paced environment, so I knew it was perfect for him.
A student participating in the ramp agent station, donning Southwest safety gear. Photo by Paul Gordon.For me, I loved the ramp station. The Southwest employees explained how safety is their top priority. They showed the kids personal protective equipment (PPE) before a relay race, where they walked to the end of the station, put on the PPE, and then used a set of light wands to demonstrate bringing in a plane. In addition, it was cool to see Cooper at the flight attendant station. He didn’t know about the extensive training for flight attendants, and he enjoyed learning about their training experience before earning their wings. Introducing the kids to different aspects of aviation aside from being a pilot opens the possibilities for those who love aviation but don’t necessarily want to go that route.
Cooper said if he could talk to other students considering attending events like this with Southwest, he’d tell them to see what they offer. Many departments and positions make up an airline, and events like this provide new opportunities and help them decide what they may want to do in aviation. Cooper wants to be a pilot or a mechanic, but someone might not want a career in the sky and instead could see themselves working at an airport. As a parent who works in aviation and encourages their child with a passion for it, I’m always looking for events to take Cooper to fuel his fire to learn more. We’re grateful to Southwest for offering this exposure to kids in the community and look forward to reviewing the additional K-12 resources they shared.
Ashley and Cooper outside event location. Photo by Priscilla Yecora, Public Relations & Community Specialist at Sheltair Aviation