April 24, 2014

United Airlines-SIU Career Day is Saturday

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- When United Airlines flight 2051 touches down Saturday, April 26, at Southern Illinois Airport, a tradition that began as an idea to attract students to aviation careers will reach a milestone.        

This is the 20th anniversary of the first United Airlines-Southern Illinois University Carbondale Aviation Career Day in 1994.  For a 16th year, approximately 110 high school and community college students will have the opportunity to learn about the great aviation opportunities that SIU’s nationally ranked program can offer. The program was suspended in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and resumed in 2007. 

Officials anticipate the A320 Airbus from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport will touch down at Southern Illinois Airport at about 9 a.m.  Capt. Barry D. Batson, Jr., an SIU aviation alumnus who was a first officer on the inaugural 1994 trip, will pilot the plane during the 54-minute flight. 

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the event, participate in courtesy flights, and interview students, faculty and alumni.  The plane will land at Southern Illinois Airport at about 9 a.m.  For more information, contact David A. NewMyer at 618/453-8898.

Students will tour the Transportation Education Center, which offers state-of-the-art training for the university’s aviation and automotive programs.  Dave NewMyer, chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, said students are impressed when they see the types of equipment they can work with. 

NewMyer recalls the unique venture was a ground-breaking way to “plant a seed” with young people from United’s home base of Chicago to potentially work for the company, and at the same time highlight the aviation program. 

SIU Carbondale is the only university that works with major airlines to fly students to its campus for an aviation career day event.  Participating alumni include pilots, dispatchers, mechanics, flight attendants, and others.  A total of 33 alumni who work with United Airlines are volunteering to make the trip and talk with students.  Among the alumni, NewMyer said, will be former Flying Saluki Julie Savage, the top female pilot in the nation at the 1999 National Intercollegiate Flying Association championships.  Savage is now a 737 first officer with United, he said. 

“There is a wonderful confluence of energy and enthusiasm in that the alumni are excited to be back at their alma mater and they get to share what they do in their aviation careers with a great group of high school students,” he said. 

Students attending and alumni on the flight will receive commemorative shirts to wear for the flight.  A video is also being produced highlighting the aviation career day history with United Airlines. 

Batson graduated in 1990 with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management and associate degree in aviation flight. A native of Chicago, Batson chose SIU Carbondale because it was in-state, offered internship opportunities with United Airlines and “was the best aviation school in the country.” 

He was one of the first flight operations interns with United Airlines.  After graduating, Batson continued for a short time as a flight instructor until being hired by the airline.  He has accumulated more than 17,000 hours in various aircraft while with the company. 

“I’m extremely honored to have this opportunity to take part in the 20-year anniversary,” he said. “The airline industry is extremely cyclical and economy driven, however, with the predicted growth in the industry and predicted pilot shortage, now is a great time to consider a career in aviation and transportation.” 

First Officer Kevin Richardson, a 2002 SIU aviation graduate, came to SIU because of its strong internship affiliations.  After working as a flight instructor, Richardson worked for Chicago Express and Republic Airways before coming to United Airlines in December. 

The aviation programs consist of aviation management, aviation flight, and aviation technologies, all within the College of Applied Sciences and Arts. 

The itinerary for the day is:

  • 6:30 a.m. -- Check-in at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
  • 8 a.m. -- Depart for Carbondale.
  • 9 a.m. -- Arrive at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9:15 a.m. -- Group photos at base of plane.
  • 9:15 to Noon. -- Aviation facility tours and introductory flights in SIU Carbondale aviation aircraft for selected students.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. -- Lunch, multipurpose rooms A and B, Transportation Education Center.
  • 12:30 p.m. -- 2 p.m. – SIU Aviation presentation with United Airlines representatives, TEC, multipurpose rooms A and B.
  • 2 to 3:15 p.m.  -- Tours of campus, including the Student Center, Saluki Stadium, and Student Recreation Center.
  • 3:30 p.m. -- Return to Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 4:30 p.m. -- Depart for Chicago.
  • 5:30 p.m. -- Arrive at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.