Helping Aviation High School Recruit Next Gen. Pilots

300 eager students and parents crowd a small auditorium tucked away in the Museum of Flight in Greater Seattle Washington. The ACE club, a career experience organization part of the Highline Aviation High School, partnered up with the museum to host a student and parent education forum for 7th and 8th graders. The forum brought together a group of mentors including pilots, engineers and educators to speak with the students and parents about the benefits of attending Aviation High School (AHS).

Throughout the forum speakers including former Alaska Airlines Captain John Sluys and former AABI President Peter Morton spoke to the auditorium about the benefits of pursuing a career in aviation. Brown’s research showcasing the return on investment a career pilot can expect to receive on their education was featured in the presentation to help future aviators and their parents fully understand the investment in an education in aviation.


Now going on their ninth year educating students in Greater Seattle, AHS was started out of necessity to increase student's test scores in STEM related verticals. Reba Gilman, Principal of AHS, is a strong believer in experiential learning and is the mind behind their prolific model.

Every student at AHS is first assigned a mentor in a field that they are interested in; pilot, engineer, air traffic controller. The mentors provide students with guidance while they are at AHS and on into the future acting as sounding board for ideas and as an advisor on career path decisions. Each student is then required to complete an internship in a field of their interest before graduating senior year.

Gilman’s students work with companies like Boeing, Luma Technologies, and the FAA and have proven their ability to contribute in the real world at a young age, working side by side with college level interns. Aside from just providing students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in school, the AHS internship program gives students the chance to experience a career of their choosing before making a decision on a collegiate field of study. For many students including Jake Wagner (meet Jake), a senior at AHS, the internship program solidifies their decision to pursue a career in aviation.

To date AHS’s experiential learning curriculum has been very successful increasing student's test scores and better preparing them for college. Graduates from AHS have gone on to pursue degrees at Harvard, MIT, ERAU and Columbia and have exceeded National SAT scores by an average of 15%.