What started in a fifth grade classroom over 15 years ago has since taken to the skies. Southwest Airlines Pilot David Childs found himself looking for a way to inspire kids to have the same love of aviation his father instilled in him at a young age.
Not long after coming to Southwest in 2000, David saw a flyer advertising Southwest’s Adopt-A-Pilot program. It immediately piqued his interest as a great way to give back to the community. As a part of the program, he spent five years at Bridgecreek Elementary, a small school outside of Oklahoma City, integrating aviation into their curriculum.
He planned activities for students to race paper airplanes to test the limits of aerodynamics. He shared geography lessons of the places he flew to throughout the class, bringing along their mascot, a “Bridgecreek Bobcat,” to travel with him. He taped off the floor to make runways and taxiways in a creative attempt to teach kids the phonetic alphabet and let their imaginations run wild as if they too could take off like airplanes.
Through teaching the Adopt-A-Pilot lessons, David hoped to spark a love for aviation within his students. What he did not know was that this would all come to inspire a future career at Southwest.
In July, Jessica Mitchell began her own Southwest career as a Denver-based Flight Attendant. When she came to training in Dallas, she had a flashback to her very first impression of the airline: David Childs. Jessica was a student in Mrs. Seals’ fifth grade class that had “adopted” David. The summer after that year, she went on to board an airplane for the very first time. Of course, it was a Southwest flight, and she immediately resonated with David’s passion for flying.
Looking back, Jessica remembers the paper airplane races and fun lessons. But more than that, she remembers having a change of Heart. She went from being a student who dreaded math, science, and geography lessons to one who got excited over how these subjects related to aviation.
Jessica’s aviation journey came full circle when she decided to join the Southwest Family by applying to be a Flight Attendant. Her time in an Adopt-A-Pilot classroom was her first look at a potential career in aviation and her life hasn’t been the same since.