Route 88.7 Blog: Houston Airport System Gives a Lift to Aspiring Aviators, While International Traffic Soars

Houston launches a new program for teens interested in aviation careers,  and the city sees a boost in the number of international flights.  

New Aviation Clubs for Houston High-Schoolers

The City of Houston and the Houston Airport System are throwing their support behind a unique program for teens who have their eyes on the skies.

At a City Hall news conference, Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Airport System Director Mario Diaz announced the creation of new high-school-based aviation clubs, designed for kids who want to pursue flight-related careers.

Diaz says the clubs aren’t just for kids who want to become pilots, “[s]ome of these students will earn doctorate degrees and they will recycle back into the universities and they will teach. Some of these students will become engineers. There are just an infinite number of possibilities of jobs that aviation and aerospace can afford these students.”

Diaz adds the aviation clubs will give direction to kids who are interested in those careers, because “[i]t maintains and establishes and keeps in place, over a long period of time, the pathway where students can see clearly how to get from point A to point B.”

Along with experience, Diaz says aspiring aviators also need to have fun so “they will jump out of bed in the morning and knock over their parents on their way to the door to get to school to learn, because they know they’re going to participate in an aero club meeting.”  

Mayor Parker says Houston has a legacy as a world leader in aerospace and will continue to aggressively pursue jobs as the space program transitions from a public to private venture. She adds, “We want to make sure that the moniker ‘Space City’ continues to apply to Houston.” To make that happen, Parker says educators and business leaders have to get kids excited about those careers.

Also participating in the news conference were students from Sterling High School, which has the city’s only magnet aviation program. Senior Jesse Soto is just weeks away from getting his pilot’s license, something he once thought was only a dream. He remembers, “Looking up in the sky and seeing airplanes all over the place, I thought that was something only high-income people and kids would be able to achieve. But then the Sterling Aviation Magnet Program really opened up lots and lots of doors for me.”

There will be two clubs to start, one at Sterling and another at Carnegie-Vanguard High School. Officials hope to expand the clubs to more schools in the future.



Houston Major Hub for International Flights

In other aviation news, KUHF’s Andrew Schneider reports that Houston now ranks fifth in the nation as a gateway for international flights. That’s according to a new study from the Brookings Institute, which shows that air traffic in and out of the U.S. has more than doubled over the past 20 years.

The city with the most international traffic is Atlanta, with more than 6 million international air travelers last year.  Houston had nearly four million.  

The study shows most of Houston’s international flights come from Latin America and the Carribean.  There’s also an increasing number of flights from sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

You can check out Andrew’s story here.  We also have a link to the Brookings Institute study. 



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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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