Young aviation enthusiasts take flight for world’s largest air show

Inside O’Hare’s Terminal 3, it’s the usual rush but a brand new audience. 

Some flying for the first time, students as young as 13, were eager for quite the experience. 

Oshkosh may not sound like a coveted destination, but this week, that’s exactly what it is. A Wisconsin airport will become the busiest in the world for the next few days during the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture Oshkosh air show. 

American Airlines hosted 100 students with Captain Corey Glenn ready to answer questions. 

“It’s really important to me because I didn’t have opportunities like this when I was trying to find my way to be a pilot, even though it was a passion that I had from a very young childhood,” Glenn said.

For students, it’s a rare opportunity. Madison Nero, for example, says she has never been to an air show, let alone one with a front row view.

“I’m really hoping to learn some things about aerobatics because even though I’m too scared to do anything of the sorts, but I’m just really excited to see what it’s like and to learn how people do it and how to train for it and things like it,” Nero said.

Thousands of aviation enthusiasts are expected to attend the show. The students hope to learn from airline workers, each with a question and a seat on a 30-minute flight en route to the world’s largest air show. 

“How long does it take to make certain aircraft?” is a question Noah Dawson says he planned to ask. “My interest is really in aircraft engineering, that’s what I’m hoping to learn.”

The move is part of a push by American Airlines to start recruiting at an early age – as airlines keep trying to diversify flight decks. 

A 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey found that less than 4% of those employed in the US as aircraft pilots or flight engineers are Black. Less than 6% of the pilots are women. 

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