On February 22, the Department of Aviation marked the return of community tours to PHL by welcoming sixth grade boys from the Elkins Park School Leadership Academy in Cheltenham Township, Pa., to spend the day at the airport to learn about operations.
Led by Assistant Director of Community Engagement and Outreach Keesha Lane, PHL welcomes members of the community, students, and stakeholders to visit the airport to study the behind-the-scenes activities. “We are elated to reestablish this connection to the community that had been restricted during the pandemic. Out of an abundance of caution, we paused the program but we’re back!” said Lane.
Kicking things off, Airport Facilities Manager Milton Robinson spoke with the group about his career journey and the choices he made that got him to this point in his career. While talking with the young visitors, Robinson said, “My path brought me to this place, and I’m not done yet. There’s so much more I want to achieve.”
The students were also fortunate to meet with United Airlines Captain Cedric Davis. Davis is one of only a few Black pilots working for a commercial airline. He also operates a youth aviation summer academy, which he uses to introduce young people to aeronautics. Davis’ leadership and conviction to empower were on display during the visit, as he made sure the young men stayed focused and on task.
Those who interacted with the young guests were repeatedly impressed by the Leadership Academy students. They were active listeners and asked great questions. For example, during introductions, one student asked CAO Delicsha Wilds “what’s the difference between your job as the CAO and the CEO?” Wilds gladly responded, “that’s a GREAT question!” The student listened intently while she explained “The CAO is responsible for all things administrative in an organization. The people component that affects the way things run internally. CEOs are responsible for the overall functionality of an organization.”
After lunch, the students had the rare opportunity to visit the ramp tower. The students discovered how the tower crew communicates with coordinates with air traffic control to ensure the airways are safe. Another bonus, the tower provides one of the best views of the city. Hopefully by watching flights depart and land at PHL, combined with the view, showed the students how big the world is and encourage them to explore.
Cyd Smith from Leadership Academy expressed the following after their visit, “I didn't want the day to go by without sharing how grateful I am for the amazing PHL tour given to Leadership Academy. In all my 30 plus years of programming for students, this was hands-down the best field trip experience. There are no words to thank you enough for all the organization and intentional effort put forth to make the day a special event. I am excited about the students who will choose aviation as a career path because of this industry awareness and exposure opportunity.”
Lane extends thanks to the Department of Aviation’s CEO Atif Saeed; Wilds; Deputy Director of Aviation-Facilities Allan Moore; Deputy of Airport Procurement Deatrice Isaac; Supervisor Milton Creary; Finance Consultant Edwin Childs; Contracts Auditor Dominique Randall; Assistant Director of Air Service Development and Cargo Services Nicole Maddox; and Staff Engineer 1 Andrea Manley; and Davis and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer Mark Hickling for the gift of their time during the tour and discussions. Lane believes airport tours are important because they “generate awareness about the PHL ecosystem”.
The DOA appreciates Lane for making this awesome day come together and looks forward to meeting other future flyers.