“In the military, and in aviation particularly, there are endless options. From programs that help you go straight from high school, to flight school to service academies that springboard you into flying.”
First officer, Alaska Airlines
Aspiring pilots and aviation aficionados packed into the Northwest Aviation Career Forum to showcase their knowledge, learn and network with career aeronautical experts Feb. 24 at the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup.
Although the event was open to the public, there was a substantial military presence. The majority of the forum was broken into four, hour-long sessions that allowed visitors to interact with a panel made up of individuals who are well-versed in a specific area. Each session had a panel highlighting the advantages that come from trying to tackle an aviation career from the military angle.
“My message is that there (are) a lot of options through the military, and I want to go over them with everyone here and offer advice that I never got,” said Morgan Lawrence, Alaska Airlines first officer and a lieutenant with the Navy Reserve. “In the military, and in aviation particularly, there are endless options. From programs that help you go straight from high school, to flight school to service academies that springboard you into flying.”
One of the recurring themes at the panel meeting was the value of persistence and willingness to tackle roadblocks as they come up. Beyond that, the panel also touched on just how special the military path is for people who want to fly.
“It’s a really unique opportunity to not only be paid to fly, but to fly the best equipment in the world,” Lawrence said. “It’s not an easy career path to go as a civilian, but in the military, they’ll take a kid straight out of college and put them into a T-6, a turbine trainer that a regular civilian can’t afford.”
In between the panels, attendees were able to float around to different booths that offered service and information about the aviation career. These included recruiting booths with aviation giants like Alaska Airlines and Boeing. There were also a handful of booths that provided information about training programs available.
Many of the panel speakers consisted of veterans and retired service members. They used their platform to explain why airlines are seeking out service members and why this forum could be mutually beneficial for those trying to break into the field and those looking to hire the best.
“When you transition from the military, you’ve seen a lot of things and that gives you advantages,” said William Davis, an Alaska Airline pilot and former Army fixed-wing pilot. “The military sets folks up for an airline. They are looking for people (who) are going to contribute, and they know that they are getting people with a lot of buy-ins and be ready to succeed.”