Careers in aviation taking off


For students at Oakland Aviation High School, the sky's the limit.

"I'm going to be a commercial pilot for an airline," said Anakaren Centeno, student.

"Make some good money?" asked ABC7's Terry McSweeney.

"Yes," said Centeno.

Principal Jim Sulton says this charter school is an idea whose time has come.

"They'll be prepared for college and they will also be prepared for careers as aviation mechanics. Our hope is to bring in other programs - air traffic control, flight - any career that is involved in the aviation industry," said Sulton.

And there will be many jobs in the aviation industry. The aerospace and defense industry does not have nearly enough skilled workers, especially engineers, to replace the ones approaching retirement. Not enough military scientists or commercial pilots. And not enough maintenance, repair and overhaul technicians - the dream job for these students at the City College of San Francisco's airport campus.

"We're graduating about 10-15 students a semester - so we are not talking humungous numbers, but they need them, they can find employment," said George Diaz, chair, CCSF Aeronautics Department.

But the good news for the students is not good news for the United States; the lack of trained aviation industry workers threatens America's worldwide edge in technology and even threatens our national security.

"They've got to have some kind of incentive program to get these people interested - college graduates taking science programs and that sort of thing and getting people interested in the aerospace industry so that they can fill these positions people are going to leave," said Ron Wilson, ABC7 aviation consultant.

Graduates from this high flying program receive a certificate that can even get them a job on the ground.

"We still move in an economy with mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatics moving most of what we drive in, sit in, the elevators we go up or down in, the utilities that we demand," said Jerry Bernstein, CCSF transportation tech program.

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