I enjoyed meeting today with our Aviation Advisory Council. It is noteworthy that this meeting of industry leaders is occurring just days after the tragic death on a Southwest Airlines flight en route from New York to Dallas. See the New York Times story here.
Dean Fred Ritchey has assembled a distinguished advisory council. They represent organizations such as American Airlines, Boeing, Cessna, Covington Aircraft, Dynamic Aviation, the FAA, FedEx Express, JAARS, MAF, Rockwell Collins, United Airlines and more.
So much of what happened earlier this week on Southwest Flight 1380 has captured my attention. I'm so very sad for the family of Jennifer Riordan, a young mother of two, who was killed by engine debris that entered the cabin at her seat on the 17th row. I'm encouraged at how fellow passengers, strangers really, responded with unselfish and deliberate aid to Jennifer while the plane was still in rapid descent.
And there is Captain Tammie Jo Shults, a graduate of MidAmerica Nazarene University and the Navy's first female to fly the F/A-18 fighter plane. Her professional and competent handling of the emergency, as well as her authentic compassion for her passengers, is very inspiring. It's God-honoring.
I'm so very proud that Dean Ritchey and his faculty prepare professionals of this same caliber. Aviation professionals do take responsibility for thousands of lives when they go to their workplaces daily. Nearly 2 million passengers fly each day just in the U.S., and worldwide today, more than 100,000 airline flights are scheduled. That's much responsibility on these airframe and power technicians, flight controllers, aviation managers, and, of course, pilots. And then there are the engineers behind the design of an aircraft that can suffer the loss of an engine and a large hole in the fuselage and still return passengers to the ground safely from 30,000 feet.
This world needs aviation professionals who are professionals of both competence and character.
For the sake of millions who fly daily, we need to graduate a new generation of aviation professionals who will see their work as a holy calling with eternal impact.