April 26, 2018

Media Advisory – American Airlines-SIU Aviation Career Day

Nearly 120 prospective aviation students from the Chicago area will board an American Airlines MD-80 and fly to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the American Airlines-SIU Aviation Career Day on Saturday.

This is the 11th year since 2005 the airline has flown students who are thinking about an aviation career to SIU, totaling more than 1,250 students over the years.

Participating SIU aviation alumni from American Airlines volunteer for the flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The plane will land at Southern Illinois Airport at 9 a.m.

After students tour the campus, they will return to the Transportation Education Center to learn more about the university’s nationally recognized aviation programs and hear about the industry from American Airlines professionals.

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the event, participate in courtesy flights, and interview students, faculty and alumni. Mike Burgener, chair of the Department of Aviation Technologies and interim chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight, will be among those available for interviews.

Among the American Airlines personnel who will be volunteering their time for the career day are:

  • Franco Tedeschi, American Airlines vice president of Chicago O’Hare, one of the airline’s largest hubs.
  • Jay Rud, a 1983 SIU Carbondale graduate in technical careers and aviation technologies, who has 32 years with the airline.
  • Mike McClellan, senior manager-chief pilot captain, a 1983 graduate of the College of Business with a minor in aviation management and economics.
  • Leslie Scott, senior manager of field communications-Chicago O’Hare.
  • Brock Crocker, vice president North American Operations, Vestergaard Company, Inc., and SIU aviation management alumnus. Vestergaard manufactures, distributes and supports state-of-the-art ground support equipment to the aviation industry worldwide.
  • Cockpit crew is Capt. Tracey McFadden and First Officer Isaac Gonzalez, both of whom are based out of the airline’s hub in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.

SIU aviation alumni will be on board

Rud is a captain/check airman on the 787 Dreamliner in Chicago.

“American Airlines is happy to be operating a cooperative event with one of the country’s premier aviation institutions, Southern Illinois University,” he said. “This career day is important for the university, important to American Airlines, but mostly its value is opening the eyes of young adults of the Chicagoland area contemplating a career in the aviation profession.”

Aviation industry has a promising job outlook for both pilots and technicians

Aviation market projections from Boeing indicate a strong need for pilots and planes through 2036. Rud notes that American Airlines hired 645 pilots in 2017 and look to hire 730 pilots this year.

There is also a “great need” for aviation maintenance technicians and potential aviation management professionals, he said.

“SIU has always been a great source of highly qualified graduates in the many fields of professional aviation,” he said.


  • 6:30 a.m. – Check in, Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
  • 8 a.m. – American Airlines MD-80 aircraft departs for Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9 a.m. – Plane arrives at Southern Illinois Airport.
  • 9:15 a.m. – Group photos at base of plane.
  • 9:30-11:45 a.m. – Students board buses to main campus for walking tour, including Student Center, Saluki Stadium and Student Recreation Center.
  • 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m. – Lunch at Transportation Education Center multipurpose rooms A and B. SIU aviation program presentation with American Airlines representatives.
  • 1-3:15 p.m. – Select students will receive introductory flights in SIU Aviation Flight aircraft and all students will tour aviation program facilities.
  • 3:30-4:30 p.m. – Security screening, board aircraft and dinner.
  • 5:30 p.m. – Arrive back at O’Hare International Airport.