- Associated Press - Friday, October 17, 2014

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - About a dozen boys and girls spent an evening exploring the air traffic control tower at Dannelly Field as part of a career program for youths interested in aviation.

The teens are in an Aviation Explorer chapter, which is aimed at young people ages 14 to 18 who have expressed interest in a career in aviation, whether it be for the military, the corporate arena or airlines.

Each month from September to May, the students will take field trips and visit groups such as the Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base’s 908th Airlift Wing and the Army National Guard units.

They will learn about different fields of flight, from F-16 fighter jets to C-130 cargo aircraft and Army helicopters, to manufacturing aircraft parts and air traffic control.

“It helps them to decide what career path they want to pursue,” said Lt. Col. Jerry Lobb with the 908th. “Being an air traffic controller is a job that is in high demand right now.”

The program as a whole allows students to make informed decisions and helps them focus their studies during high school, Lobb said.

“Basically this program is valuable in letting kids contemplate on what they want to do after graduation. If they know they want to be an engineer, they should be focusing on doing well in math before they graduate. . They will reap the investment when they start looking for a job.”

An air traffic controller controls the air space for incoming and outgoing flights, guiding pilots on a safe path for both landing and take-off. The tower at the Montgomery Regional Airport is used by the 187th Fighter Wing, the Army National Guard and corresponds with the tower at Maxwell Air Force Base.

The local Aviation Explorer chapter is organized by the 908th Airlift Wing and Box Aviation located out of the Montgomery Regional Airport. Members visited the control tower this week.

Students in different schools in the area were given a test asking them what career fields interested them. If aviation was one of the fields selected, those students received letters inviting them to join the Aviation Explorers chapter.

That’s how Dilawar Suchdeva, 16, learned about the group. He’s a sophomore at Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School and has always wanted to be a pilot.

“My first time looking at an airplane, I just fell in love,” Dilawar said.

In his spare time, Dilawar watches hours of YouTube videos and reads manuals on flying. He soon might join his father in taking flying lessons.

Dilawar’s father, Harginder Suchdeva, who accompanied him on the tour of the tower, has been looking into flying lessons himself.

“Flying back and forth from India, I became fascinated by the airplanes, so I decided I wanted to learn how to fly. The instructor said my son can sit in the back,” Suchdeva said.

The program also allows students like Dilawar and 14-year-old Zion Park to learn the educational requirements needed to succeed in whatever field they choose.

Zion’s mother, Yuna Kim, asked the air traffic control tower supervisor, Jon Grablin, several questions concerning the best educational route to take to become a controller.

Zion, who also is a student at Brewbaker, said he would rather become an Air Force pilot.

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Information from: Montgomery Advertiser, https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com


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