United Airlines-SIU Aviation Day

Learning about aviation careers – Students interested in aviation and SIU Carbondale’s nationally recognized aviation program arriving for the United Airlines-SIU Aviation Career Day in April 2017. The 20th year will be celebrated Saturday with nearly 120 high school and community college students on campus. 

October 16, 2018

United Airlines-SIU Aviation to host career day Saturday

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — When United Airlines Capt. John White and first officer Alicia Edmondson pilot the Airbus A320 into Southern Illinois Airport on Oct. 20, a tradition that began nearly 25 years ago will continue.

Nearly 120 high school and community college students will have the opportunity to see first-hand what White, Edmondson and thousands of other students have experienced as a part of Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s nationally recognized aviation programs.

Participating Southern Illinois University Carbondale aviation alumni, including United Airlines pilots, dispatchers, mechanics, flight attendants and others volunteer for the flight from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. They will accompany just over 100 Chicago area high school students on the flight. In addition, 15 spring and fall 2019 students will be driving in with parents for the event.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to attend the United Airlines-SIU Aviation Career Day, participate in courtesy flights, and interview students, faculty and alumni. The plane will land at about 8:45 a.m. For more information, contact Michael Burgener, chair of the Department of Aviation Technologies and interim chair of the Department of Aviation Management and Flight at 618/536-3371 or burgener@siu.edu.

Collaboration started in 1994

This is the 20th year for the United Airlines-SIU Aviation Career Day. The program was suspended after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks but resumed in 2007. SIU Carbondale is the only university that works with a major airline to fly students to its campus for an aviation career day.

Capt. Clarence Copping, a Boeing 777 captain and line check airman instructor who graduated from SIU’s aviation management program in 1977, noted the importance of the corporate-sponsored event for alumni.

“They donate their time to share their professional knowledge and career paths with the student guests,” he said. “This is a very unique travel opportunity for the students and is eagerly anticipated each year.”

Will bring his experience ‘full circle’

White, originally from Normal, Illinois, graduated from SIU in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in aviation management and a minor in aviation flight. He also attended the United Airlines intern program and was hired in January 1989. He has attended a few United-SIU Aviation events, but this is his first as a crew member.

White’s son James, a senior at St. Charles North High School, who is also interested in a career in aviation, is one of this year’s students on the trip. White said he wants to convey to students the rewarding careers within the aviation field that are available.

“It is quite exciting to be the captain on the flight and it brings the experience full circle, from coming to SIU as an aspiring commercial pilot and then returning 30 years later as the captain of the United-SIU flight,” he said.

Wants to share with students her love of flying

Edmondson was a corporate pilot prior to coming to United Airlines 21 months ago. A 1998 SIU graduate with a degree in aviation management, Edmondson, who is originally from Glen Ellyn, Illinois, selected SIU Carbondale due to its “outstanding” aviation flight program.

I knew I wanted to be a pilot from a very early age and started to fly when I was 16. I think that achieving your goals and or dreams can be accomplished with hard work and determination,” she said.

Excellent future career potential

The 2018 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook projects a robust demand for people seeking careers within the aviation industry over the next 20 years. Experts predict a need for 790,000 new civil aviation pilots, 754,000 new maintenance technicians and 890,000 new cabin crew for a worldwide fleet in commercial and business aviation and civil helicopter industries.