HONOLULU (KHON2) — Parents are not alone if their children ever wanted to become a pilot.

Hawaiian Airlines hosted an Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy on Wednesday, July 27 to give middle and high school students a chance to spread their wings.

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The Academy — held in partnership with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals — is meant to show students that the industry wants them aboard.

“Because, you know, you’ll walk through the airport or you see somebody on TV, like, ‘Oh, that’s a CEO, I’ll never do that.’ Or pilot, ‘I’ll never be a pilot.'” ACE Academy director Randall Rochon said. “But yes you can! You can do everything that you want to do, it’s how do you get started?”

A good place to start for future pilots is Hawaiian Airlines’ newest flight simulator; the 787 Sim.

“So it goes about six and a half feet up in the air, it moves completely just like an aircraft, actually we have to make it that way so we’re compliant with the FAA,” said Michael Church, Hawaiian Airlines Facilities and Training Devices manager. “If you close that door, get on motion, you won’t be able to tell the difference between an aircraft and a simulator.”

While the flight simulator is certainly the most eye-catching, the Academy is also about giving children the opportunity to network with — and get excited about — the airline and aerospace industry.

“I never done any research and anything like that,” Kapolei High School senior Margaret Baluyot said. “I wanted to go into this program to learn more and to experience the different careers and all that.”

There was also a large, inflatable slide at the Academy — but it was not just for fun.

“It’s also part of our training,” Church said, “this is where the flight attendants come down, they need to know, be able to get not only our passengers, but them down the slide safely.”

The simulator stole the show, however.

“It’s kind of like opened my mind to different options and stuff, so like, I really think that the fighter pilots are really cool and stuff,” Moanalua sophomore Indya Barber-White said. “I just think like, just flying at super sonic speed and stuff is really cool.”

With national pilot shortages ongoing, Hawaiian Airlines said the perfect time to plant the seed for future employees has already arrived.

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“And I think that once they start seeing these devices and facilities, it’s just a bigger aspect for them,” Church said. “And so, just being able to show them that just gives them more opportunities to take a look at the whole picture, vice, ‘I’m just going to go do this.'”