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College Students Explore Aviation Careers at San Jose Regional Forum

Northern California Group Announces New Scholarship for Local Students

July 15, 2011

As Exhibitors at NBAA's Business Aviation Regional Forum in San Jose, CA set up their booths and readied their aircraft for static display, a group of about 40 local college students heard from a panel of industry veterans how to jump-start their careers. The students were invited to attend a complimentary "Careers in Business Aviation" session on July 13, the day before the San Jose Regional Forum, by NBAA and the Northern California Business Aviation Association (NCBAA).

"You're here at a good time," said John Swaney, chief pilot for Hewlett-Packard and president of NCBAA. "There is going to be more job growth in our industry than there has been for five years." NCBAA was formed just seven months ago and Swaney said a founding goal of the new regional group is "helping students like you understand what the business aviation career is all about."

To underscore the organization's support for mentoring and career development, NCBAA leaders announced a $5,000 initial grant to create a new scholarship fund. Many of the students picked up applications for the new scholarship and said they would apply.

Samson Phan, a mechanical engineering major at Stanford University said he would put the award toward earning his private pilot's license. "It's that first step that opens up this entire field for you," he said.

The students, who came from schools as far away as Ohio State University for the event, heard from a distinguished panel representing the variety of careers in business aviation, including:

  • Doug Carr, NBAA vice president, safety, security & regulation
  • Dan Burkhart, NBAA director, regional programs
  • Stephen Harms, Hewlett-Packard safety officer
  • John Tucker, TWC Aviation marketing coordinator
  • Charlie Johnson, TWC Aviation vice president

"I don't know when any of you were infected with the aviation bug, but you should know it's incurable," said Carr. "Ten percent of the jobs in aviation involve flying an airplane. There are so many more jobs out there in aviation that can satisfy your passion."

After the panelists spoke, students had the opportunity to ask them questions and tour the aircraft on static display.

"I'd like to get into business aviation, whatever way I can," said Tristan Vellrath on the Mineta San Jose International (SJC) ramp in front of an Embraer Phenom 100. "I graduated from UC Davis in 2007 and right now I'm taking aviation maintenance classes." With 50 hours in a Cessna 172, Vellrath said he would apply for the NCBAA scholarship and would soon go for his instrument rating.

View a Photo Gallery of Images from the San Jose Forum

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