Inspiring Aviators at EAA AirVenture
Inspiring Aviators at EAA AirVenture
I couldn’t be more excited that Southwest Airlines returned to Oshkosh this summer as an exhibitor at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture 2023. As perhaps the world’s biggest aviation gathering, it’s a fantastic way to showcase our iconic Company to fans of flying and the next generation of potential Southwest Employees.
AirVenture, or simply Oshkosh as most fellow AvGeeks call it, is an annual event the last week of July that takes place at Wittman Regional Airport (OSH) near Oshkosh, Wis. Current pilots, future pilots, and general enthusiasts of just about anything you’d take to the skies represent most of the attendees. And quite a few make the journey in their own plane, with more than 10,000 aircraft on site. Southwest is no exception, with one of our newest Boeing 737 MAX 8s appearing at the show!
Our Destination 225° commemorative aircraft (N8891Q) flew from Chicago Midway to Oshkosh on July 24, 2023 (Southwest Airlines)
When I was in high school, I was fascinated by planes. With the support of a scholarship from the EAA, I began flight training first in a glider and then pursued a private pilot license. It was an immense privilege to be introduced to our wonderful industry at such a young age and impossible without the help of the EAA.
Me standing in front of our Destination 225° aircraft at EAA AirVenture 2023 in Oshkosh, Wis. (Southwest Airlines)
For several years starting in 2010, Southwest participated in AirVenture by sending a plane with enthusiastic volunteers to Oshkosh. At the time, we took delivery of our last factory-new 737-700s before introducing the -800s to the Southwest fleet.
This year, Southwest aircraft N8891Q made the trip from Chicago (Midway) to Oshkosh to show off the newest member of our fleet. With only being in service a handful of days, it also features the new Space Bins, offering our Customers more storage space in the overhead bins and reducing the need to potentially gate check as many carryon bags. The aircraft also features Viasat WiFi, which provides increased connectivity and Reliability to all the wireless devices we travel with today.
Destination 225° Program Participants and Southwest First Officers (Southwest Airlines)
Perhaps the most important part of what 8891 brings to Oshkosh are some People that traveled onboard. Cadets from our Destination 225° Pilot pathways program, which began in 2019 to train and lead aspiring pilots to Southwest, were part of the Team. More than 450 participants are in the program currently, with four different pathways (Cadet, Military, University, and Employee) toward potential careers as a Southwest First Officer. A commemorative decal will remain on this aircraft for the remainder of the year to celebrate the graduation of our first Destination 225° participants.
Southwest Airlines Employees and members of the Tuskegee NEXT Foundation and AeroStar Avion Institute (Southwest Airlines)
Members of Tuskegee NEXT Foundation and AeroStar Avion Institute were also honored guests. Tuskegee NEXT is a non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of under-resourced youth through aviation education, with cadets becoming leaders in their communities while pursuing successful careers in aviation. The program offers students a three-tiered approach focusing on flight training, life skills programs, and educational assistance. AeroStar’s programs strive to enhance, promote, and support the academic awareness of aviation and aeronautical career path opportunities for students: particularly female, minority, underprivileged, and at-risk youth.
Tuskegee NEXT Students deplane at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. (Southwest Airlines)
If you happen to make the trip to Oshkosh yourself this week, we’d love to say hello at our air-conditioned space. Just like onboard, it offers open seating, and it’s a great place to learn more about our beloved Southwest Brand and about a possible career with Heart.
Wanna see your career take flight too? Visit swa.is/D225 to learn more about Destination 255°.
Destination 225° Participants and Southwest First Officers (Southwest Airlines)
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