Planting seeds of inspiration to grow the next generation of aerospace leaders is key to continuing our legacy as Hawaiʻi’s hometown carrier. Yesterday, we teamed up with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) to host a diverse group of 16 local middle-to-high school students enrolled in the nonprofit’s annual Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy. Over 30 Hawaiian Airlines employees and 12 OBAP members volunteered to guide the students, answer questions and share their expertise while showing them the ins and outs of our operations.
Students began the day at our corporate headquarters where our Chief Operating Officer Jon Snook shared his personal story, covered Hawaiian Airlines’ vast operations and encouraged them to keep their sights set on the sky. Employee volunteers then escorted the group to engage with various work areas, including our pilot and flight attendant training facility. In-flight trainers demonstrated how flight attendants prepare for various emergencies, such as using an aircraft slide, maneuvering a raft after a water landing and putting out a fire.
Our pilots welcomed students into our new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner simulator, where they took over the controls and experienced various flight scenarios that our pilots train through to ensure our guests' safest and most comfortable journey.
“We were thrilled when OBAP presented us with the opportunity to host a day in their week-long ACE Academy agenda. Most people rarely get a behind-the-scenes look at our operations. For students, an experience like that can have a huge impact,” said Analu Frantz, a flight administration specialist who helped organize the visit. “These experiences can be a real spark for many students and help us foster greater diversity across the industry, so we relish opportunities to bring them into our facilities and show them the different career pathways available to explore.”
Our maintenance and cargo teams walked the students around our state-of-the-art facility, pointing out the different functions of maintaining an aircraft and transporting freight. Students toured our avionics shop and saw one of our 24 Airbus A330 aircraft undergoing regular maintenance before boarding the wide-body plane and exploring its cabin features.
To close their visit, the group got a unique, up-close look at our 1929 Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker, the airplane that started our company 93 years ago and still flies to this day.
ACE Academy Director Randall Rochon, a United Airlines Boeing 737 captain, was among OBAP members escorting the group throughout a week-long trip focused on introducing youth to Hawaiʻi’s various aerospace operators. Rochon has been an OBAP member since 1999 and attributes his success to the relationships he’s forged through the group, which he discovered in a magazine advertisement. Rochon believes introducing students to the aerospace industry early on can help them see doors of opportunity that they didn't know were available.
When asked about why programs like the ACE Academy are important, Rochon said, “ You’ll walk through the airport, or you see somebody on TV, like, ‘Oh, that’s a CEO, I’ll never do that.’ Or pilot, ‘I’ll never be a pilot.' But yes, you can! You can do everything you want; the question we want to help answer is ‘How do I get started?”
Hawaiian Airlines is proud to back opportunities for students to explore aviation careers and regularly supports education and pipeline programs organized by local academic institutions, Hawaii Children’s Discovery Center, International Women in Aviation, and more.