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Soaring possibilities

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a pilot, or how you even become one? An event hosted by Career Services on Tuesday, Feb. 4 answered all those questions, and all it took to make it happen was the interest of one student, Castleton Freshman Zach Castellini-Dow.

“We did this because of Zach,” said Renee Beaupre White, director of Career Services. “His professor emailed me one day and said ‘I have a student who wants to be a pilot.'”

That was all the motivation she needed. Beaupre White contacted Ryan Ollis, an aviation education coordinator for Vermont Aviation, and he agreed to come to Castleton and speak.

Just like that, Castellini-Dow and six other students were given the tools they needed to make a dream a reality.

“My dad got me interested because he was in the air force for 22 years, so he opened my eyes to aviation as a possible career choice,” said Castellini-Dow. “I’m interested in this. I can actually learn about this.”  

Learn he did. Ollis provided the students with an abundance of information about every aspect of aviation, a booming industry.

“My collegue is famous for saying aviation is the second largest producer of jobs in the nation. The first is Wal-Mart,” Ollis said.

Ollis passed out handouts to students with a list of over 60 different jobs in aviation. You could be a helicopter pilot, a corporate pilot, an air traffic controller, a flight attendant, a mechanic, a meteorologist, an air marshal or even a flight instructor.

The handout, sponsored by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, also gave information about what kind of education you need for each job and who employs each position.

“My main job is to expose students and young people to the opportunities there are in aviation,” said Ollis. “We’re trying to grow the young community.”

In addition to providing other handouts on pilot schools and certification courses, Ollis also shared some of his experiences and opinions about what its like to actually be a pilot.

“It’s a challenging field, but it’s very rewarding,” he said.

Ollis even says once you’re up there, flying is less stressful than driving a car.    Why?

“Less traffic.”

Ollis also gave examples of the perks of having a pilot’s license, saying he often rents a plane just to take a day trip. He and his fiancé have even flown down to Martha’s Vineyard just for dinner at a nice restaurant.

“If you like rollercoasters you’ll also like aviation,” Ollis said.

Castellini-Dow is currently a history major, but he plans on changing that.

“I was going into teaching, but I’m not liking the education system, so it’s a good alternative,” he said. “And I think it offers something good for me.”