A Pilot Provides Students a Glimpse into Aviation

This month, a dedicated United Airlines pilot connected with RDU staff to provide an exciting experience to a local student. Pilot Brad Rhodes, a local community member, offered to auction an ‘Insider’s’ view of commercial aviation to raise money for his child’s school, which happens to be under the flight path of planes departing and arriving at RDU.

Kindergartner Brooke was the lucky winner of the “day in the life of a pilot” experience. Brooke and her mother arrived at Terminal 1 for an experience they both said they will never forget. Brad, along with RDU and TSA staff, escorted Brooke and her mother through security lines and to the gates. The long walk to the gate allowed Brooke to learn about all the different aspects of airport operations and the responsibilities of a pilot. Upon arrival at a gate, Brooke got an up-close glimpse into the cockpit and saw all the preparation for takeoff. Her eyes glowed with excitement as she exclaimed, “that’s a lot of buttons!”

After a few questions and answers with RDU staff and a TSA agent, the group went to the observation deck in time for Brooke to see a plane similar to the Airbus A319 that she had just visited. A tip for plane spotters—the RDU observation deck is an ideal location to watch planes take off and land, and it’s free!

“As someone who didn’t realize until much later that aviation is a viable career choice, I am glad to help spark and spread interest in the field, said Brad Rhodes United Airlines 767 Pilot. Current projections indicate commercial aviation needs an ever-expanding crop of young aviators and support personnel. I hope little boys and girls alike get to expand upon their interests and are encouraged to follow dreams that include flying. As an ambassador to the field, I am so glad I got to take part in RDU’s generous outreach with little Brooke. Thanks to all that helped!”

RDU was excited to share in this experience and even more pleased to connect with community members interested in aviation. We applaud Brad for his commitment to providing real-life experiences to youth that nurture their intrigue and will help build a pipeline for future careers in aviation.