NMC’s aviation program will get a lofty showcase before a national audience this summer when a pair of student pilots fly across North America in the Air Race Classic, the oldest air race of its kind, and exclusively for female pilots.
Ninety years after legendary aviator Amelia Earhart made cross-country racing popular, Team Hawk Owls — Hannah Beard of Interlochen (left) and Jessi Martin of Maple City (right) — will take off from Jackson, Tenn. on June 18 in an NMC Cessna. The 2,500 mile trip is a race against the clock broken into nine legs. They expect to land in Welland, Ontario, by June 21.
“It’s going to be marathon,” Martin, 43, said.
“Sunrise to sunset flying,” agreed Beard, 23.
Entering the Air Race Classic is the latest example of how women at NMC are making significant strides in what has long been a male-dominated field. While only four percent of U.S. airline pilots are female, nearly 20 percent of current NMC aviation students are now women. The college is now home to a chapter of Women in Aviation International, which allows them to network and support each other.
Want a way to stand out from the crowd when it’s time to look for a job?
Consider a study abroad trip. Students who study abroad find a job twice as fast as those who don’t and earn $7,000 more, according to 2012 studies.
NMC Flight Instructor Abigail Smelzer as a student on a 2011 trip to the UK.
Moreover, in a global economy employers increasingly value study abroad experiences, but relatively few students take them, according to the Chicago Tribune. NMC Flight Instructor Abigail Smelzer is one who did and saw it pay off in her job hunt.
As an aviation student at NMC, she visited the United Kingdom in 2011 and South Africa in 2014. Steve Ursell, Head of International Aviation at NMC, said those trips gave Smeltzer an edge when the department was looking to employ flight instructors in August 2014.
“Her experience in both the UK and South Africa certainly assisted her in gaining a flight instructor position at NMC because we have a very active international program,” Ursell said.
“Because I went on the trip as a student, now I understand the whole point of what the international program is about,” Smelzer said.
Online retailer Amazon created quite a buzz Monday when it released a video showcasing a future service it calls PrimeAir. Utilizing unmanned aerial vehicles, Amazon says by 2015, it hopes to deliver purchases to customers’ doorsteps within 30 minutes of order.
Steve Ursell is Head of International Aviation Programs at NMC and is originally from West Sussex, UK. He was a Flight Instructor for three years before setting up the International Aviation Program for NMC which now includes a number of partnerships with overseas universities in the UK, India, South Africa and South Korea. As part of this successful international program, this summer Steve set up and ran a two week Aviation Course for NMC aviation students in the UK.
After months of planning, five NMC aviation students and I departed Traverse City on August 11, 2013 bound for London, UK, to complete a two week UK aviation course. We completed the same trip two years earlier with eight NMC aviation students, and as per that year, all the students were excited about the prospect of a trip overseas, especially with a focus on aviation and flying.