Students Look to the Skies at the Port of Olympia’s Aviation Day

Record-breaking flier Chuck Yeager once said that, “There’s no such thing as a natural-born pilot.” While many of us are captivated by the skies, few put in the countless hours of flight time and hard work to conquer them. Thanks to the Port of Olympia’s recent Aviation Day, local high schooler students are one step closer to the wide, blue yonder.

On Friday, May 10, 66 students from Black Hills and Tumwater High Schools met at the Olympia Regional Airport for Aviation Day from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. During the day, they met with the Port’s airport tenants and partners for hands on learning and activities.

“The day provided the students with an opportunity to see, touch and hear about career options related to aviation,” said Black Hills Aviation Program Teacher Scott Cutler. “For most students, this was the first time they had visited their local airport, let alone being near the aircraft and people that work there.”

On May 10, the Port of Olympia hosted the first Aviation Day at the Olympia Regional Airport. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

The day was Cutler’s brainchild and a partnership between the Port, on-site businesses and students. “I approached the Port with the idea last year and we were able to make it happen. The students completed a reflection piece the following Monday and every one of them thought the day was well worth the time. The common theme was the kids wished they had more time at each station.”

These stations were hosted by the Washington State Patrol’s Aviation Division, the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Olympic Flight Museum, Safety in Motion Flight Center, Airlift Northwest, Tumwater Fire Department, Glacier Aviation, and Olympia Avionics.

Students moved from station to station studying how aviation was used to fight wildfires, create jobs and provide life-flights. They also featured training schools and let interested students look under the hood, tinker with parts and get their hands dirty. Tips on how to apply for jobs were offered and where to find current employment listings.

“I want to thank the Port of Olympia and all the participating businesses for working with us to make this event a success. We hope we can continue this event in the future,” says Cutler.

Each year the Port offers tours of its waterfront to hundreds of students, guests and visitors. They even reimburse school bus transportation costs for schools in Thurston County.

Port of Olympia Aviation Day hands on
Nearly 70 students from Tumwater and Black Hills High Schools attended for hands-on instruction and interaction with Port tenants. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

When students can’t come to them, Port employees provide in-class presentations on marketing, logistics, operations, administration and environmental sustainability. They hope Aviation Day continues and becomes a valued annual field-trip. “We’re trying to get investment in career and technical education programs in local high schools,” explains Communications, Marketing, and Outreach Manager Jennie Foglia-Jones. “Showcasing careers with degrees and in trades. Our ultimate goal is outreach into all interested schools.”

“We have amazing tenants who have been strong partners,” continues Foglia-Jones, “And are willing to lend expertise and knowledge.” Outside of avionics and shipping, the Port offers students a glimpse into facilitating and marketing such a large local, national and international organization.

Want your chance to go behind the scenes? Sign up for a free, 2-hour walking tour of the Port online or by calling 360-528-8005. You can also request tour accommodation for your class, club or group. The tour is open to anyone but space is limited and reservations are required.

Port of Olympia Aviation Day airport
Clear your calendar over Fathers Day weekend for the 21st annual Olympic Air Show at the airport. Photo courtesy: Port of Olympia

Then get ready for a roaring good time at the 21st annual Olympic Air Show. Held annually around Father’s Day weekend, this year’s fun runs from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. June 15 and 16. It and other port-promoted events take place county-wide and are open to everyone. After the airshow, pencil in Summer Splash! at the Hands on Children’s Museum, Music on the Plaza, the Thurston County Fair, and so much more.

Want to know more about the Port’s Vision 2050 plan for the future? Find blue-shirted representatives at local events or visit their website to learn about community input, and upcoming plans, presentations, and forums. The last vision project brought the landmark Olympia Farmer’s Market to Port property, cast your vote for the next phase of development and investment, downtown and across the county.

Since the beginning, mankind has dreamt of flying. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve managed to take to the skies. As Amelia Earhart said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.”


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