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      New NMC program helps pilots take off

      The continuously growing aviation program at Northwestern Michigan College soared even higher on Thursday after signing a pipeline agreement with the regional airline, American Eagle.

      After a presentation from American Eagle officials, Captain Recruiter Jeffrey Gordon and NMC Aviation Director Aaron Cook signed the agreement in front of more than two dozen aviation students and instructors.

      Under the agreement, the aviation students are guaranteed an interview with the airline as early as their second year in the program. If hired they will receive a $10,000 signing bonus.

      "It allows us to be able to interview them prior to graduation, prior to them meeting their first minimum criteria that they would have to meet via flight time and things of that nature," said Gordon. "Building a relationship with them in advance so that when they do graduate they'll be able to literally receive their diploma, and enter a new hire training class without any further interview."

      There are 120 aviation students at NMC. On Thursday ten of them got opportunities to have their first interview with American Eagle.

      Sophomore, Luke Sowash, was among the ten and said he was excited for the opportunity.

      "First of all, you know it's a great opportunity that they offer," said Sowash. "Second of all it gives great interview experience, allows me to kind of see what they have to offer, and see what I can be looking forward to in the future."

      NMC is the first community college to sign a pipeline agreement with American Eagle. The airline says they strive for excellence in their employees, and that NMC was an easy choice.

      "We no longer have to be concerned with the quality of an individual that will be entering the cockpit with us," said Gordon. "It's all laid out in the quality education that they're receiving through Northwestern Michigan College."

      "We've had a lot of great success over the last few years and this is just another thing that allows us to be able to market the program and to recruit students and ultimately provide a situation for students when they come in the program to be able to see the end result and get jobs," said Cook.

      After working for some time with American Eagle, the students are also guaranteed and interview with American Airlines. American is the parent airline to American Eagle.

      Gordon says the demand for pilots is huge right now because there will be a lot of mandatory retirements at major airlines in the near future. He says current regional airline pilots will be asked first to fill those jobs and in return will create openings in their previous positions.

      For more information on American Eagle Airlines, or to apply for a position, click here.