REEDLEY, California (KGPE) – In a first-of-its-kind partnership involving a city, a community college, a school district, and a Fortune 500 company, Boeing is installing flight simulators in two Reedley elementary schools.
It comes as thousands of pilots are retiring amid growth in the airline industry.
Boeing is betting the video-game-like flight simulators in elementary schools are a way to grow future employees.
Severin Wandji works for Boeing HorizonX, a part of the company that researches and develops future investments.
“We believe that diversity is critical for our company,” said Wandji. “We believe that diversity is critical for innovation. It’s been scientifically proven.”
Boeing took notice after Reedley received a grant to purchase four cutting-edge electric aircraft.
City Manager Nicole Zieba is pulling together resources like Reedley College’s world-renowned aviation maintenance technology program.
“How could we move the dial on our unemployment? How could we move the dial on our poverty numbers? Really pull our families out of poverty and really give our youth opportunities,” said Zieba.
The project is even giving students the opportunity to follow their heroes’ footsteps. Fourth-grader Kaileigh Hirahara-Corony is a frequent flyer of the new simulator in Jefferson Elementary’s library.
“Amelia Earhart and Bessie Coleman both inspired women that women can be a pilot too.”