The state’s growing aviation industry is in focus this week with the celebration of South Carolina Aviation Week, which started Sunday April 23 and runs through Saturday April 29.
The statewide event is the result of a partnership between the South Carolina Aviation Association and the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission and is designed to highlight the impact aviation has on the state’s economic development and showcase education initiatives to get more students interested in the industry, according to a news release.
South Carolina Aviation Association officials want the week to highlight the impact of the state’s six commercial service airports, 58 general aviation airports and five military airfields.
“South Carolina’s airports are essential to economic development in the state,” said Kevin Howell, the Aviation Association’s president. “They directly contribute to the economy by providing services, moving passengers and transporting cargo. The movement of goods and people benefits the state’s government, consumers and its industries.”
Aviation in South Carolina supports more than 122,000 jobs with an estimated annual payroll of $4.8 billion, according to statistics compiled by the Aviation Association. Annually, at least $16.3 billion in economic activity can be traced to the industry, according to the release.
Aviation Week events kicked off on April 23 with events promoting aviation to youth and young adults in Rock Hill, Charleston and Spartanburg. Throughout the week there will be special events and celebration at commercial airports around the state.
On Monday, April 24 the fifth annual “Senior Flight Day” took place at 9 a.m. at Fairfield County Airport in Winnsboro. Three high school seniors from Fairfield County who intend to pursue careers in aviation took discovery flights that allowed them to experience flight alongside a certified flight instructor.
The three students were Lily Hawkins of Richard Winn Academy, Smyra Thomas from Fairfield Central High School and Austin Clack of the Midlands S.T.E.M. Institute. They were recruited by Denise Bryan, director of the Fairfield County Airport.
“The solution to the pilot shortage is a robust pipeline for aviation workforce development,” Bryan said. “Now more than ever it’s important to continue to show students the value of a career in aviation. By introducing high schoolers to viable career options within our state, we strengthen the aviation industry alongside the state’s economy.”
A special “Aviation Career Signing Day” is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday April 26 at Jim Hamilton – L.B. Owens Airport in Columbia. Students from Lexington/Richland School District Five in Columbia who have committed to aviation careers will take part in the event.
A full schedule of statewide events for Aviation Week can be found online.