Southwest`s Adopt-A-Pilot Program Takes Off

DALLAS, Feb. 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/—So commercial pilots can navigate a 72,000-pound aircraft at speeds of 250 mph through various weather conditions, but can they fold a paper airplane as well as a 10-year old? More than 450 Southwest Pilots will give it a try this year as they mentor fifth- grade students in Southwest Airlines` (NYSE: LUV) Adopt-A-Pilot program.

With the program`s official launch today, more than 15,000 students across the country will adopt Southwest Pilots. Together, Pilots and classes will implement program curriculum that incorporates science, math, geography, language arts, and other subjects to discover more than just how an airplane flies—to see how education is critical in reaching one`s personal goals.

The Southwest Airlines Adopt-A-Pilot program is a four-week mentorship program where Pilots volunteer their time in adoptive classrooms and correspond from the “road” via electronic mail and postcards. Using an official United States route map, each class charts its adopted Pilot`s course. The students record the daily flying statistics sent by their Pilots into the Adopt-A-Pilot curriculum provided.

“We couldn`t be more impressed by the personal commitment of these Pilots who want to make a difference. We hear from teachers that many students have gained increased self-esteem and determination for future careers as a result of the Adopt-A-Pilot program,” says Greg Crum, Southwest`s vice president of flight operations. “At a time when all airlines are cost-conscious, Southwest has continued to advocate and increase support for this worthwhile program.”

Reinforcing the school-to-career theme this year will be a national contest, called “What`s Your Destination?” Adopt-A-Pilot classes will be invited to script, direct, perform, and produce their own three-minute video depicting careers each student hopes to pursue some day. The winning class will earn a roundtrip educational field trip to a nearby Southwest destination.


As part of its “good neighbor policy”, Southwest Airlines has also collaborated with San Antonio PBS station KLRN-TV to produce AirFair, an online resource found at . The site features aviation history, science, and Adopt-A-Pilot links along with streaming video segments that describe aviation careers.

Southwest Airlines originally developed the Adopt-A-Pilot program in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Education, America`s Promise, the Smithsonian Institute`s National Air and Space Museum, and others in response to the need for community involvement in schools. National leaders such as Gen. Colin Powell, former President Bill Clinton, and First Lady Laura Bush have recognized the program.

Celebrating its sixth year, the Adopt-A-Pilot program has reached more than 50,000 students. Its online version also extends the program to cities outside Southwest`s route system. (See )

Southwest Airlines, now the nation`s fourth largest carrier in terms of Customer boardings, serves 59 airports in 58 cities in 30 states. The airline currently has more than 4,000 Pilots and operates nearly 2,800 flights a day.