Scholarship Winners Take On Flight Simulators As Allegiant Works To Improve Service

They were all enrolled in the Cass County Career & Technical Education Center aviation program

LAS VEGAS, NV — On Sunday night, KVRR featured three local winners of aviation scholarships from Allegiant airlines.

The recent high school graduates each brought a parent along for a whirlwind trip to company headquarters in Las Vegas.

Allegiant is doing its part to groom a new crop of much needed airline industry employees.

They just started awarding $2,500 scholarships to be used at aviation programs or flight schools.

Kylee, Reece and Seth are three of the first six winners.

They were all enrolled in the Cass County Career & Technical Education Center aviation program.

They also just got their first look at how a major airline operates.

It’s always a perfect day to fly when you step into a state-of-the-art Airbus simulator.

Seth, a West Fargo High School graduate, is behind the controls as we take off from a pretend McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

The sounds, movements and scenery; including the Las Vegas Strip are very realistic.

The take-off is smooth for this teen who has dreamed of becoming a pilot for years.

“I’ve been wanting to be one for pretty much forever,” said Seth Ouellette. “But when it started really coming together for me was after a trip that I went on when I was 14 and it was in a 6-seater plane, we went all the way down to Florida, and that was the first time I got to be in the front seat of an airplane. That was really cool.”

The landing was a little “bumpy” but more on that later.

Elsewhere in the training center we come across an actual section of an old Allegiant aircraft.

It is now used to train flight crew members and comes complete with simulated smoke on board.

This is also where mechanics are trained.

It gives the scholarship winners many career options even though they already seem to have their career paths nailed down.

“Air traffic management that sounds really good right now,” said Reece Wagner, a recent Sheyenne High School graduate.  “We got to talk to, Blake I believe his name was, at their operations control center and that place was really cool as well.”

Kylee Aberle, also a recent Sheyenne grad said, “Well I mean there is a pilot shortage already and even further female shortage so, I feel like by the time I am able to be a pilot it’ll change, and I kind of want to be a part of the change.”

“You’ll be a trailblazer,” said TJ.

Kylee responded, “Yeah.”

“You can be a network planner, besides a pilot and a flight attendant,” said Hilarie Grey, Allegiant Corporate Communications.

“Who runs the station? Who forecasts the weather? Who looks at the daily flights and where they’re going and where there are weather delays and how we plan around those. So hopefully we’ll leave our visitors today with a really interesting sense of the range of careers in aviation that keep them excited about the industry no matter what segment they choose to go into.”

Allegiant is known for its routes from underserved areas to vacation destinations.

The company is also known for some bad press in the past decade for coverage of mechanical problems and emergency landings.

One such event involved Hector International Airport in Fargo.

In July 2015, the pilots declared a fuel emergency during a temporary flight restriction at the airport for Blue Angels training.

The company was told about the restrictions months in advance.

The incident resulted in a letter of correction from the FAA.

Allegiant has addressed many of its mechanical issues with its aging MD-80 planes by replacing them with an all-Airbus A320 fleet.

It has resulted in lower fuel and maintenance costs and provided a boost to the bottom line.

The airline continues to grow and started the scholarship program as a way to recruit young blood into an industry that is experiencing a pilot shortage.

Seth hopes to be one of those pilots one day but first he has to land this “simulated” flight in Las Vegas.

And yes, I felt that landing.

“I mean I did bounce it,” said Seth. “But talking to Andreas it sounds like that’s a pretty common thing that happens with the first landing with those simulators, so. I’d say that I did a pretty decent job besides that.”

Yes you did, Seth.

If you have a child that has an interest in a career in aviation, you can contact the Career and Technical Education Center at Sheyenne High School for more information.

CTE serves Fargo, West Fargo, and Northern Cass Public School Districts.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News