Nov. 29, 2017

The Aviation Community Foundation (ACF) has a simple, but ambitious goal, and that’s to entice 1 million people to file a flight plan for a lifetime career in the aviation sector.

“There is an incredible demand for talent today and into the future, and the industry is facing unprecedented demand for talent on a global level,” said Ethan Martin, founder and CEO of ACF. “Boeing is forecasting the need for 2 million people over the next 20 years. It is really important that we as an industry attract new, young talent and retain them.

“They need to understand firsthand the great opportunities that exist in all aspects in aviation,” he added.

Martin is a 1,500-hour pilot and CFI/CFII, as well as an entrepreneur with experience building high-growth companies. He is passionate about the mission of using aviation to train the next generation of industry professionals because he personally benefitted from great mentors himself.

Through the foundation’s “1,000,000 Flight Plans for Life,” which has been embraced by many companies in the industry, the plan is to identify and connect top aviation educators and support them, and also to mentor students by providing life-changing experiences for those in underserved communities.

“Aviation is such a powerful way to bring STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] concepts to life,” said Geoff Heck, Signature Flight Support’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. By way of example, Heck pointed to the story of Barrington Irving, the youngest person to pilot a plane around the world solo in 2007. Signature is a supporter of the foundation, and the company’s President and COO, Maria Sastre, spoke at the ACF’s New York Student Aviation Expedition in May, sharing her inspiring personal story and career advice.

“The general aviation industry is facing a rapidly approaching shortfall of aviation, ranging from pilots to Airframe and Powerplant technicians, to service personnel at airports and Fixed Base Operators,” Sastre said of her company’s support of ACF. “Signature is proud to play a role in the Aviation Community Foundation’s mission, and we have every confidence that this organization will have a positive impact on the future of aviation students seeking careers in this fantastic industry.”

Read more about Signature’s support of the foundation.

ACF’s “1,000,000 Flight Plans for Life” was created with initial funding from the Walton Family Foundation and other donors, and has had further support from JetBlue, Sikorsky, Jeppesen and others in the industry.

Martin believes there is no one solution to the challenges facing the industry, and therefore it requires a collaborative team approach.

“Our goal is for students to have a clear understanding of their talents and passions as it relates to great opportunities in aviation and beyond,” he said. “By working with our partners, we are able to serve a diverse group of students and quickly share best practices and effective approaches to reach the maximum number of students in an efficient way.”

Learn more about ACF.