Reedley elementary school teams up with Boeing to teach potential future pilots

REEDLEY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Interest in a new career could be taking flight at Jefferson Elementary in Reedley.

Students can't wait to get in some flight time on the school's new simulator. Boeing donated two of them to the Kings Canyon Unified School District.

"Every time the plane goes like that, it starts making this noise and it goes like, 'ihhhh,' and it's not supposed to do it, so it's kind of hard," says student Anthony Corona.

Reedley caught Boeing's eye when it bought four electric planes in 2018. The Pipistrel Alpha Electro aircraft is being used to help train pilots.

Grants allow low-income students to train at a fraction of the cost.

"We believe in and diversity and inclusion," says Severin Wandji with Boeing. "We believe there's a huge talent pool out there that we need to go find, and that talent pool can be in Reedley."

Boeing is looking at ways to inspire kids into a career in aviation. The "gamified" flight simulator always draws a crowd in the library.

The aviation industry could face major workforce shortages as pilots and other personnel retire over the next two decades.

"The Boeing pilot outlook shows that roughly 800,000 new pilots are going to be needed over the course of next 20 years," says Nicole Zieba.

Kids who show interest beyond the simulators have a support system already in place, with Reedley College offering an Aviation pathway program.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.