Each year for the last three decades the NW Aviation Conference opens its doors to over 10,000 aviation enthusiasts. Pilots, aircraft owners, aviation businesses, airports, all come together to share their aviation story. In the NW aviation world this event has become a tradition, heralding the hope of de-winterizing the hangars and towing out the birds. What began as a small gathering of tables and pilots in the Tacoma Dome thirty years ago, has grown to a weekend choke full of over 75 hours of aviation safety seminars and keynote aviation “firsts,” as well as over 350 exhibit booths and aircraft display, hosted at the 122,000 sf Showplex Exhibit Hall at the Western Washington Fairgrounds. New this year, the event is expanding to include Friday for business sessions and to help students and individuals discover a prosperous and rewarding future in aviation.
Teaming with Pierce County Airport, Horizon Air, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, General Aviation News, King County Airport, WSDOT, FAA, Professional Aviation Safety Specialists (PASS) and a multitude of aviation colleges, technical facilities and government agencies, the Aviation Business and Career Forum is the cumulative brainstorming of over fifty-five presenters from all aspects of the industry. Most the seminars will include panel members representing all sides of the subject to provide opportunities for aviation businesses, airports and career individuals to share ideas and network.
The business sessions will cover topics such as marketing strategies, tax incentives and include an entire track dedicated to current topics affecting airport managers such as community relationships, planning, and facility operations.
The career portion includes information, trends, and hand’s on advise on all aspects of the industry including maintenance and pilot opportunities. The goal was to design a program of value to students interested in aviation career and as well as to individuals already involved in aviation and wanting to expand their prospects.
“As a non-profit with the mission to promote aviation in the Northwest we are very concerned about the future of this industry,” say Jamelle Garcia, Executive Director of the Washington Aviation Association, “Our conference attendees are getting older and older. We have had many requests over the last few years to include a more focused program for careers in aviation. Hosting this event is a wonderful opportunity to not only reach out to young people and give them the inside track on what to expect in aviation careers, but also provide resources to those already in the industry and needing a boost to get to the next level. There are huge workforce shortages in aviation– unless we become proactive, it will become severe.”
The pilot career seminars will include panels with active duty pilots including airline, coast guard, WA State Patrol and bush pilots as well as provide key information such as wage and job projection from industry leaders such as Horizon Airlines, colleges and airports.
“This is a bridge for interaction between students and professionals. This kind of access to real pilots and aviation professionals and their experiences is highly beneficial to students who are trying to discover their place in aviation,” comments Anthony Remboldt, Director of Aviation Training at Walla Walla University, ” It will provide insight for students and the general public into the very diverse world of aviation, and throw off the idea that commercial aviation always means working for the airlines.”
Rachel Hansen, organizer is thrilled with the response this event is getting in its first year. “The local airports really appreciate this opportunity to share resources,” she comments on the business tracks, “It’s so exciting to see the diversity in who is responding, ” she adds with regards to the career sessions, “we have fathers and sons signing up, entire classrooms, college students and seasoned pilots. This just feels like the right thing to be doing – it could open doors for people that they never thought were possible!”
The Aviation Business and Career Forum will be hosted, Friday, February 22 at the Showplex, Western Washington Fairgrounds. Cost is $35.00/person including lunch and admission to the conference Saturday and Sunday. Get full details and register online at www.washington-aviation.org/forum.html or call Rachel toll free at 866-922-7469. Parking is free. Doors open at 8:00 am.