March 18, 2009

SIUC plans Corporate/General Aviation Career Day

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- When it comes to careers in aviation, the job opportunities are not limited solely to flying commercial airliners or military aircraft.

High school students can explore the numerous other aviation-related offerings later this month during Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Corporate Aviation/General Aviation Career Day at Southern Illinois Airport.

Students who attend the eighth-annual event, set for Saturday, March 28, have the opportunity for an expanded look at SIUC. This year’s event, which starts with registration at noon at the airport -- located between Carbondale and Murphysboro -- coincides with the SIUnity and Diversity Celebration open house on campus.

David A. NewMyer, chair of the University’s Department of Aviation Management and Flight, expects 40 to 60 students. The event is open to current eighth-grade, high school and community college students. The career day is free, although students are responsible for their own transportation to and from the airport.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the SIUC Corporate Aviation/General Aviation Career Day. Planes will begin arriving at Southern Illinois Airport, west of Carbondale, at about noon. Personnel from corporate and general aviation companies, along with SIUC aviation personnel, will be available for interviews. Members of the media may also wish to attend the various presentations on aviation careers that begin at 3:30 p.m. For more information, contact David A. NewMyer or Lori Robertson at 618/453-8898.

The event includes tours of the University’s aviation facilities at the airport, in addition to meeting SIUC aviation students, faculty, staff and alumni to answer questions.

Corporate and general aviation aircraft brought in by SIUC aviation alumni will begin arriving at the airport between noon and 1 p.m. General aviation refers to all flying except for military and the airlines.

SIUC’s nationally recognized aviation programs -- aviation flight, aviation management, and aviation technologies -- are part of the College of Applied Sciences and Arts, and three of the University’s signature programs.

Openings are still available for career day. Additional information and an application are available at For more information, contact NewMyer, or Lori Robertson, at 618/453-8898.

NewMyer said a key component in the aviation open house is the opportunity for students to view some of the latest aircraft technology. He anticipates corporate jets, turboprop planes and new flight training aircraft to be at the airport.

Linking the University’s open house with the aviation career day is beneficial to students and their parents, NewMyer said. Separate registration for both events is required, he said.

“If they come to the open house in the morning they are going to get a pretty comprehensive look at the University,” he said.

General and corporate aviations opportunities provide “a window on a different world in aviation,” NewMyer said. “”It’s a part of aviation that is hidden from the typical public.”

But the fields provide numerous career opportunities for jobs other than just as pilots. Only about 10 percent of the nation’s approximately 5,500 airports provide service to airlines, leaving the remaining number for general and corporate aircraft, NewMyer said.

He estimates there are 200,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States and 638,000 jobs in corporate and general aviation fields. Jobs for graduates with aviation management degrees include airport management and air traffic control. An aviation technology degree provides graduates the opportunity to work on aircraft, as a product support specialist, and be involved in avionics repair.

Among the aircraft scheduled to arrive on March 28 is Springfield-based Bunn-O-Matic Corp.’s Beechcraft King Air 350. Curt Christensen, an assistant professor and assistant chief flight instructor in SIUC’s aviation flight department from 1987 to 1989, is the company’s aviation manager. The King Air 350 is a two-engine, turboprop that cruises at almost 300 knots at 31,000 feet. The plane holds up to 10 passengers and utilizes two pilots. The company’s other pilot on the March 28 flight is John Mitchell, who earned his degree in aviation management from SIUC in the early 1990s.

Christensen looks forward to returning to SIUC and meeting with students.

“I hope the students take away an understanding of the variety of aviation opportunities beyond the military and the airlines and an understanding of the cyclical nature of aviation,” he said.

As aviation manager, Christensen manages all personnel in the company’s flight department, comprised of seven full-time pilots, two full-time mechanics, and a part-time mechanics helper. He is responsible for budgets, scheduling, and training and development. The company’s other plane is a Beechjet400A, a turbojet that cruises at 440 knots at 41,000 feet. The company travels all over the continental Unites States and into Canada, primarily Toronto, Christensen said.

Other aircraft expected at the event will come from Central Illinois Air of Mattoon, Cook Enterprises in Anna, Midwest Aviation from Paducah, Ky., and other locations.

The itinerary for the day is:

  • Noon-1 p.m. -- Check-in. Arrival of students, parents and chaperones, and arrival of visiting corporate and general aviation aircraft at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 1 p.m. -- Group photo on the main ramp.
  • 1:15-3:15 p.m. -- Tours of SIUC’s aviation facilities and introductory flights in SIUC aircraft.
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. -- Presentations on aviation career tracks and opportunities with corporate and general aviation professionals, along with presentations on SIUC’s aviation programs, Aviation Technologies Building, room 146.