Over 100 youngsters and their parents turned up to the Orange Aero Club’s Discover Flying open day on Sunday, giving a bright spark to the future of aviation in Orange.
Career advice was offered to those interested in roles from piloting to maintenance to flight control and cabin crew.
Aviation has fallen out of favour with young people across Australia and the world, with aviation industry advocacy group Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) saying the industry worldwide will be searching for 650,000 pilots over the next few decades.
AOPA executive director Benjamin Mogan, who was at the session, said it was encouraging to see so many young people at the event.
Mr Morgan said young people “are the best situated and best placed as they’ve ever been” to take part in the industry, and said Orange is “incredibly placed” to become “a hub of aviation”.
He said good airspace, the location, weather and topography meant Orange was “ideally situated to be a centre of learning and maintenance”.
“Regional areas have always been large contributors to aviation,” he said.
Orange Aero Club management committee vice chairman Mike Secombe said the event went “far beyond” expectations.
“We had six flight simulators running, kids as young as four or five were flying the simulators and some of them better than me,” he said.
“There were quite a lot of young people around aged 13 or 14 who were looking to become pilots asking when they were allowed to start flying which was really encouraging.”
Orange Christian School was one of the several schools which attended the Aero Club open day, with several students attending.
The school had a group of students take part in a six-week Junior Pilots program in 2017 to gain an insight into the variety of careers involved in aviation.
One of the students who took part in the program, Caleb Cairns, said the open day “really promoted” different areas of aviation.
“The Orange Aero Club has provided a good link for me to learn about aviation careers,” he said.
Fellow student Jacob Pulling said he enjoyed the flight simulators.
“The flight simulator gave a good experience of flying an aircraft,” he said.
I learned a lot about the history of various aircraft, especially the Tiger Moth.
Josh Coleman is involved in Airforce Cadets, an organisation who links with the Orange Aero Club for training.
He was able to see the displays about careers at the Open Day, which added to the knowledge he picked up at last year’s RAAF Work Experience at Richmond air base.
Orange Christian School careers adviser Kath Berry said she “really appreciated” information the Aero Club had provided to schools.
“It has enabled us to develop valuable links with a career area that has the potential to be difficult to experience.”
Our students have benefited greatly from the opportunities that have been made possible for us.”