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Start of 'SC Aviation Week' kicks off with student discovery flights in Fairfield

Two seniors from Fairfield County School District had the chance to see the county and Columbia from a birds eye view.

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, S.C. — It's South Carolina Aviation Week, a week dedicated to inspiring more people to get involved with the industry. 

Fairfield County Airport is doing their part through their student discovery flight day. Two seniors from the Fairfield County school district are the lucky winners of these flights.

This means they got to go up in the air with an instructor for a 30 minute birds-eye view. 

"I felt good, kind of feel dizzy," Drashti Patel, senior said. 

"Oh, it was awesome being able to fly it around and see all over Columbia," senior Travis Bonds said. "You get to see an angle of Columbia that you don't usually get to experience.

Both of these students were selected for their aviation interest and plans to pursue it further down the runway.

"I always wanted to become a pilot, so when I heard about it, I just put my name in (the drawing)," Patel said.

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"Yeah, I think I'd really love to take flight school after this experience," Bonds said.

These pilot hopefuls are good signs for the lacking industry.

According to the International Air Transport Association, aviation is likely to remain in a net loss position, losing nearly 10 billion dollars in 2022.

"We have to keep our kids, generations coming up interested in aviation. If we don't, I don't know what our economy and life would be like," said Denise Bryan, Fairfield County Airport director.

These kiddos even got to play captain in the driver's seat once steady in the air. 

"In an airplane, there are actually duplicated controls on each side, so they have their own controls and, actually, the left hand seat that they're flying in is where most pilots would be," Bryan said.

Planted in the pilot seat, the Fairfield County Airport is hopeful for interest to take off. 

The Fairfield County Airport director tells News 19 aerospace, emergency services and cadet programs are good areas of study to pursue if aviation is the end goal. 

RELATED: American offers to boost pilot pay 17% by the end of 2024

Fairfield County Airport's flight instructor explains aviation scholarships are available through organizations like the South Carolina Aviation Association and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. 

According to the school district, in the four years this discovery flight has existed, none of the students have gone on to pursue a career in the aviation industry. However, this might be the year. 

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