Sunday, May 15, 2022
May 15, 2022

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Aviation Explorers looks to help students pursue careers in flight

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

A team that includes the Pearson Field Education Center, county school districts and a Vancouver flight center will give students interested in aviation careers the chance to stretch their wings.

They are partnering in an Aviation Explorer post that will hold its first meeting from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Education Center’s hangar at Pearson Field, 201A East Reserve St., Vancouver.

Other partners in the project are Aero Maintenance Flight Center and Cascadia Tech Academy, a career-training center supported by eight public school districts in Clark County.

“It’s about getting young people interested in aviation careers,” said Garrett Schmidt, director of the Pearson Field Education Center. “The industry is wide open.”

The partnership is designed to give those young people an expanded range of experiences in the aviation field.

Did You Know?

• The local career-skills center for high school students has a new title, Cascadia Tech Academy. Formerly known as the Clark County Skills Center, the academy is supported by the eight school districts in Clark County and hosted by the Evergreen district.

Cascadia Tech Academy has almost 90 students in its aviation-careers program, which is in its third year. Todd Bode and Rob Reinebach are the instructors.

Partnering with the Pearson Field Education Center in an Explorer post will get their students out into the field more, Bode said: “It will allow us to get longer legs.”

Curriculum at Cascadia Tech Academy — formerly known as the Clark County Skills Center — is a half-day program, with students spending the rest of the day at their home high schools around Clark County.

With that timetable, the academy can’t schedule any field trip “if it’s more than 20 minutes from here,” Bode said.

That eliminates some great opportunities around the region, Bode said. They include the Museum of Flight in Seattle and some Puget Sound-area aerospace companies that have been in the news recently.

“We can’t do that during a school day,” Bode said.

There also are restrictions for students working on advanced rocketry projects.

“We can do neat stuff,” he said, but because of FAA restrictions, “we can’t do it around here. We have to go to Oregon.”

Those would be possibilities for an Explorer post. Meetings also will offer inside looks at potential careers in aviation such as pilot, aircraft mechanic, aerospace engineer, flight attendant or air traffic controller, Schmidt said.

“I got started in aviation when I was a teenager through an Aviation Explorers post,” Theresa Nelson, chief instructor pilot at Aero Maintenance, said in a news release. “We want to give young adults in the community the same opportunities to explore this exciting career field.”

There is no charge to attend the initial meeting; parents are also invited to attend. When a post is formally organized, annual dues will be $24.

For more information about Aviation Explorers, contact Schmidt at 360-992-1818 or

The Pearson Field Education Center is a program of the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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