Air Shows Offer Opportunities for Outreach and Growth


Hillsboro, Oregon

The Portland Community College (PCC) has partnered with the Hillsboro School District on its new Oregon Aerospace Careers for Everyone (O-ACE) Program. The Oregon Air Show Charitable Foundation, the 501(c)(3) charitable affiliate of the Oregon International Air Show (OIAS), funded the renovation of classroom space at the airport’s terminal building along with donations of services from local businesses.

OIAS has long championed the use of STEM at their events each year, connecting young adults and children from the region directly to the extensive opportunities that aviation provides as a career field both in the cockpit and on the ground.

PCC’s Aviation Science and Aviation Maintenance Technology faculty worked to design the curriculum for the classes to match courses offered in their programs. Students in the pathway can earn dual college credits and can participate in a non-profit “Flight Club,” created and operated by students. This club allows access to aviation activities after school, as well. “It’s exciting to see students in the classrooms,” said Bill Braack, President of the Oregon International Air Show.

Over the next 20 years, the aviation industry will face a mammoth shortage of skilled workers, and this new career entry opportunity enables a small portion of that gap to be filled. The Oregon International Air Show’s embrace of STEM has been a key driver to the program throughout, paving the way and promoting the opportunity of aviation-related careers to the next generation in the region.


Sacramento, California

The California Capital Airshow has traditionally included STEM events of varying shapes and sizes, both on show weekends and throughout the year. For their 2021 event, the show coordinated a three-day program targeting girls and young women by promoting opportunities in aviation and aerospace.

An “Ask Me Anything” luncheon panel was held on Friday, prior to the show, with an audience of nearly 200 young women. The panel was comprised of an all-female line-up of top aviation role models, including F-35 demonstration pilot Major Kristin Wolfe, Thunderbird 5, Major Michelle Curran, and others. The panel, moderated by Steph Stricklen, spent time outlining and describing opportunities and tactics for career planning and discussing life lessons. Those attending had the chance to interact one-on-one after the panel with each of the speakers, giving them the chance to further ask questions and understand career opportunities they can pursue.

Over the weekend, the group participated in eight separate immersion tours with female pilots and crew members on the air show ramp. These tours allowed participants to get a hands-on and up-close look at the aircraft and hear first-hand stories of the paths each took to get where they are today. Mentors and role models will help to connect and guide these students to further opportunities beyond the air show weekend.

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The International Council of Air Shows (ICAS) is a trade association dedicated to building and sustaining a vibrant air show industry to support its membership. To achieve this goal, ICAS demands its members operate their air show business at only the highest levels of safety, professionalism, and integrity.