Comair Airlines Canadair CL-600 Regional jet lands in front of control tower at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. (AP)

Ohio University Aviation Student Hopes to Inspire Minorities

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ATHENS, Ohio — Airline pilots are among some of the highest median paying jobs in the country, with a median income of $174,870 dollars per year. However, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission, it is one of the least diverse fields in the country with white males make up 85% of airline transport pilots.

Pie Chart: Percentages of Airline Pilots Among Different Groups

“Honestly, I think the biggest aspect is access” said Theresa Meyer, Ohio University’s Chief Flight Dispatcher. “Learning to fly is not inexpensive; if people can’t afford the education, they can’t be airline pilots.”

Despite this, minority students aren’t letting the statistics get in the way of their aspirations.

“It honestly doesn’t really bother me that only 2% of pilots in America are Asian,” said Doug Petrick, an Asian Aviation student at Ohio University. “I have a passion for flying, and I’m going to work hard and do what I have to do to get there — I don’t let race define who I am.”

Aviation student at Ohio University Doug Petrick plans a flight

Other students have recognized the need for diversity in the field. “Only 7% of pilots are women, with an even smaller percentage being people of color, andnative background,” said Matthew Dorrell, a junior aviation student at Ohio University.

“The need for us to break the stereotype is definitely out there, especially in today’s world.”

Dorrell has also recognized the hard work Petrick has put into his aspirations.

“Doug is one of those guys in the major that wants to prove himself to everyone else,” he said. “He works significantly harder than most other people in the department.”

Ohio University plans to increase diversity within aviation field.

“I do know the University is actively seeking underrepresented students to bring into all fields,” Meyer said. “Aviation is definitely part of that plan.”

Petrick hopes to inspire future students coming into the field.

“Part of the reason I work so hard is I want to be the best pilot I can be,” he said. “I know a lot of my role models were great pilots, so it would mean a lot to me if someday younger people would look up to me and be inspired to work even harder than I did.”