Patrick Robinson
Alaska Airlines Captain Ronald Limes and Mt. Rainier student Hamreet Kaur, 15, took part in the Ninth Annual Aviation Day at Alaska Airlines on May 6. Limes is Chairman of the Museum of Flight's Michael P. Anderson program and is a mentor to Kaur whose aspiration is to be an airline pilot.

Aviation Day at SeaTac inspires more than 1200 students to let their dreams take flight

Hamreet Kaur, is literally under the wing of airline pilot Captain Ronald Limes

The Ninth Annual Aviation Day on Saturday, May 6th, hosted by the Port of Seattle, Boeing and Alaska Airlines saw more than 1200 teenagers from around Puget Sound and beyond come to the Alaska Airlines hangars at Sea-Tac airport to be inspired, learn and make connections with people, equipment and programs in aviation and aeronautics. The event began nine years ago as a tour for Boy and Girl Scouts and has evolved over time into something more like an aviation and aeronautics job fair.

One of the students there was Hamreet Kaur a 15-year-old aspiring pilot from Des Moines who is part of the Michael P. Anderson Program. She attends Mt. Rainier High School and has already completed her ground training at the Puget Sound Skills Center where she scored 98.7 percent on all her tests. She does programs at the Museum of Flight and is aiming first at the Solo Flight Academy next year that will take about two months to complete. Once she’s done she will be able to solo in smaller aircraft. But her eventual goal is to be an airline pilot. Captain Ronald Limes with Alaska is her mentor in the program. “She will learn the pattern, how the pattern works and of course how the aircraft works. The instructor will go up with her for 15 or 20 hours and then gets out and says ‘Go!’ and she does it on her own.” To get from there to be airline pilot takes roughly 3000 Flight Hours which takes “years,” said Limes, “It’s one thing to be co-pilot it’s another to be making the decisions. You have to have some Pilot In Command time.” Limes is also a Flight Operations Duty Officer for Alaska and is the Chairman of the Michael P. Anderson program. The program was created at the Museum of Flight to honor the memory of Anderson a Washington native and astronaut who perished in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. The nine year old program teaches students about science, engineering, flight dynamics and navigation in hands-on, state-of-the-art labs and simulators and provides mentors like Captain Limes. “What he did,” Limes explained, “was engage with kids. He talked rockets and space and more. We took his name and built an education program around it.” There are more than 200 scholars signed up this year. Limes has tremendous faith in his protege Kaur. “I don’t have any doubt.”

Women in aviation make up only about 6 percent (pilots) but that number is growing and programs like this are helping to encourage more. At a special presentation she was given four round trip tickets to anywhere Alaska flies.

Careers ranging from aerospace engineer to professional pilot were part of the show and tell during the event. Participants were able to explore how flights are planned, scheduled and executed. Training facilities were open and engineers guided attendees through the construction of aircraft. Several light aircraft and pilots were on-site including King County Sheriff’s search and rescue Huey UH-1 and Bell 407.

Guided by Alaska Airlines and volunteers from the other sponsors, participants were able to:
• Tour Alaska jets and “kick the tires,” see wheel wells and engines with mechanics.
• Visit the flight deck of a Boeing 737 with line pilots.
• Fly a 737 simulator
• Explore the complex world of jet airplanes with the Boeing engineers who design them.
• Peek into the flight deck of the U.S. Navy’s electronic warbird, the EF-18 Growler
• Tour Teen Flight Puyallup’s student-built Vans RV-12 airplane
• See Blue Origin’s model rockets and space capsule
• Sit in the flight deck of two Alaska Airlines 737s and a Horizon Air Q400
• Learn to pre-flight a Piper J-3 Cub, Kenmore Air Express, and Cessna Caravan
• Learn to fix a jet engine from skilled Alaska mechanics
• View a demonstration of how Boeing engineers attach a 737 winglet
• Experience a Boeing 737 simulator
• Meet with recruiters from 16 of the country’s premier aviation trade and technical colleges
• See local high schools compete in Aviation Day robotic wars

Erik Lindbergh, aviator and grandson of pioneering aviator Charles Lindberg, celebrating the 90th anniversary of his solo flight across the Atlantic spoke at the event.

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