Parks College Student Sees the Workings of the Airline Industry First-Hand

February 18, 2016
Aviation Science, Parks College News

deltaairlinesfieldtripstory400wChris Wall (2nd from right) joined a group of aviation students from across the country at Delta Airlines world headquarters in Atlanta

It was somehow fitting that in getting a chance to learn the workings of the airline industry January 27-28 at Delta Air Lines world headquarters in Atlanta, Saint Louis University Parks College junior, aviation science major Chris Wall was whisked away from his gate upon landing and didn’t really get a chance to catch his breath until he returned to his gate two days later. That’s the airline business, after all.

“Before I went, people told me it was going to be non-stop, and it was non-stop. From the second we got there until the second we were getting back onto planes, we were doing something,” said Wall. “I just wanted to be there, to be present, to observe, and to get a better idea of what it’s like to work in that environment.”

The experience was part of a partnership between Delta and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) designed to give aviation students an all-access look at everything that goes into moving a passenger fleet of planes across the country—and the globe—all day, every day. Through an application process Wall was chosen to join six other aviation students from other schools on the visit.

The trip included stops in flight operations, flight safety, maintenance, crew scheduling, dispatch and pilot offices.

“It surprised me within the airline world to see all the different people that go into making the job work. I just want to go fly airplanes, but on that dispatch release it’s the captains signature and the dispatchers signature, and there’s entire command center filled with dispatchers watching over all these flights and they’ve done everything from flight planning to weight-and-balance, and there’s meteorologist and people coordinating how the gates are going to be serviced when you get there,” said Wall. “So much goes on behind the scenes at airlines that involve hundreds of people moving heaven and earth to coordinate just one flight happening.”

Wall also had the opportunity to talk to pilots about their first love—flying.

“I sat late into the night with some of the pilots just talking about flying planes and their paths into the industry. It was great to hear their stories about what they are doing and how they got into flying,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be an airline pilot since I could speak words, but I told my friends when I got back that this entire trip lit a fire in me and made me that much more excited for the future and for becoming an airline pilot.”

Wall also found similarities between what he’s experienced at Parks and what he experienced at Delta world headquarters.

“I like the community we have here at Parks College, especially within the Aviation Science Department. It gives off a family vibe. I can’t think of any faculty members I don’t know,” Wall said. “I got similar vibes from the airline. A lot of them were calling themselves a big family. Everybody loved what they were doing.”

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