25th Great Alaska Aviation Gathering takes flight this weekend
Events include a career fair for an industry hurting for employees
PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - Pilots began landing their planes in Palmer Friday morning in anticipation for the 25th annual Great Alaska Aviation Gathering that will take flight this weekend.
About a dozen aircraft landed on a 1,700 foot gravel strip in the purple parking lot at the Alaska State Fairgrounds, with many more expected to arrive Saturday to take part in the event. The event is put on by the Alaska Airmen’s Association.
“This is one of the largest aviation gatherings in the nation,” Executive Director Abby Austin said.
The event is being held in Palmer at the Warren “Bud” Woods Palmer Municipal Airport and the fairgrounds for the second year in a row.
“Our mission for the gathering is to support the local general aviation community,” Austin said. “We do that by, everything from getting kids excited about careers in aviation to awarding scholarships to supporting small business.”
Over 150 exhibitors from all over the world attend the gathering that boasts activities for kids, food trucks, plane demonstrations, as well as an opportunity to get a closer look at different models of airplanes.
This year the association is also hosting a large career fair for the industry that’s in desperate need of pilots, mechanics, and dispatchers according to Austin. Austin said the current competitive job market as well as people aging out of aviation are among the reasons they’re struggling to find workers.
“We haven’t done a good job as a nation of getting young people excited about careers. People don’t understand the opportunities for them,” Austin said. “You know they think ‘I’ll be a doctor, I’ll be a lawyer, I’ll be an engineer.’ They’re not thinking about aviation, and that’s what we’re here to try and change.”
To kick off wildland fire prevention & preparedness week, attendees will witness a demonstration of a Conair air tanker drop 2,000 gallons of water at the Palmer Airport on Sunday, May 8th. The demonstration will be put on by the Division of Forestry.
Shuttles will be available at the fairgrounds to transport individuals to and from the airport. The event is completely free to the public.
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