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United Airlines hosts students from six historically Black colleges and universities at flight training center

It's the largest flight training facility in the world and the students got to tour it, check out a flight simulator and hear from guest speakers
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Posted at 11:55 AM, Jun 12, 2024

DENVER — United Airlines is showing students at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) that aviation is an attainable career option.

On Wednesday, the airline hosted nearly 50 college students at its Flight Training Center in Denver for a day long event.

"It's the place where all of our pilots come to be trained, and re-certified and gain those skills that they need to be the best in the industry. And so for these young people today to join us to really get that exposure ... is really kind of that eye opening magic moment," said Anel Ruiz, the interim chief diversity officer for United.

It's the largest flight training facility in the world and the students got to tour it, check out a flight simulator and hear from guest speakers.

"Using the flight simulator is going to be insane," Bryson Downing, a Delaware State University sophomore, said ahead of his tours.

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The day was about more than finding the airline's next employees. Organizers said it's about representation, which is something Captain Mike Bonner said he didn't see when his aviation career was taking off.

"I didn’t see anybody that looked like me doing what I wanted to do," Bonner said. "What I needed to have that extra dose of motivation, to truly stick with it, to truly apply myself 100% was again, talking to people that were at the destination that I wanted."

Now, he gets to be that mentor to students like Downing.

"It means everything to me. Because back in first grade, I initially wanted to become a pilot just so I could say I’m the first Black pilot," Downing said.

The event started at 8 a.m. and was also attended by United pilots who are alumni of many of the HBCUs represented.

United Airlines hosts students from six HBCUs at its flight training center


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