Jobs in aviation are gaining interest around the world — and in McPherson County.

The McPherson Airport is teaming up with schools to make sure students are getting a jump on their career path.

The new Aviation Careers Exploration for Students, or ACES, program at the McPherson Airport is showing students that their career choice is not limited to just a cubical.

ACES is an introduction for middle school students to show them what stem related careers are available in aviation.

Cynthia Peterson, airport manger of the airport, said students’ eyes lit up at a previous presentation when described the ample opportunities at the airport.

Students from Inman Junior High School visited the airport on Oct. 3 to meet with staff.

"To throw an idea at them that, ‘Do you want to be a pet trainer at an airport?’ It was just a lot of fun to watch their eyes light up," she said.

The program is in its first year and Peterson is hoping to watch it grow into something more for the airport.

"I want to continue this and get it large enough that we can't continue individual events, we'd like to have it become a large annual event," she said.

Peterson is targeting middle school-age students around McPherson County because she believes starting at a young age is helpful when deciding their career choice.

"Middle school-age is when most kids begin to think about what they want to do. I was surprised at how many of them had a definite idea of course," she explained. "I'd like to get kids into aviation or something related to aviation to really take hold of them. It would be good to uncover that now before they get down another career track when they're a junior or senior in high school and suddenly discover they would love to be in aviation."

Students at the age of 14 can begin their training to become a pilot at their local airport. At 16, they can begin flying solo.

Although there may be an unlimited number of options to choose from in the aviation career, there is a shortage sweeping across the states in this field.

"I think a lot of it may be modern technology, not that it's a bad thing, but we've become very focused not just here, but worldwide on electronic related careers. Not everyone can be a computer programmer or design apps," Peterson said.

However, even with this shortage, Peterson is determined to teach students every option there is about aviation.

"There's an interest growing nation-wide in exposing kids to aviation and trades at a younger age because of the gaps that are coming in the workforce. There are a lot of programs that kids can plug into on an individual basis and other contests that students can participate in," she explained.

Students between the ages of 8 and 17 who are interested in aviation can schedule a Young Eagle Ride free of charge.

For more information, call the McPherson Airport at 620-241-0684 or visit their website at

Contact Brooke Haas by email at or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.