PELL CITY – The St. Clair County Airport held its first Aviation Career and Open House program Saturday. 

The all-day event included a wide variety of exhibits related to aviation businesses, colleges and different military branches that offer aviation training and jobs. 

Wendy Watson and Ike Newton organized the event. 

Watson said the idea came up one morning around a table, with the pilots discussing ideas about getting youngsters interested in aviation. They both have hangers at the county airport. 

“We were discussing ways to get kids to get into careers in aviation,” Watson said.

Said Newton, “We said, ‘Let’s do an event here that showcases aviation and the airport, to get the kids involved.’”

He said aviation is a great career. 

“There is a tremendous shortage of airline pilots,” he said. 

He said the opportunities in aviation are boundless. Newton said young adults can find jobs in airports and as corporate pilots, air traffic controllers, aircraft repair personnel and the list goes on. 

He said youngsters meeting pilots and seeing the many aircraft that lined the tarmac of the county airport could spark a fire within a child.

Newton said the event also allowed local pilots to showcase the airport. 

“I know from experience, this airport is a jewel,” Newton said. He said it has a great avionics shop and a great repair facility.

“The hangers are being constantly improved,” Newton said. “This is a place that the people of Pell City should be proud of. There’s an excellent flying school here, too.”

As a part of the Open House, the Wingnuts, a local rock band, performed Saturday night. The event opened with a pancake breakfast, and hot dogs, chips and soft drinks were served at lunchtime.

“Life is influenced by random events,” Newton said. “A kid getting close to a plane or talking to a pilot can change a kid’s life, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”