Community Gems: Southern Oregon Air Academy (SOAA)

At the Grants Pass Airport in Josephine County, a unique and educational opportunity like no other exists for the aviators of tomorrow. The Southern Oregon Air Academy, designed for students in both middle and high school, offers exposure to the flight industry, including mechanical and ground support roles in addition to piloting.

“There’s a need for pilots,” explained Josephine County Commissioner, Dan DeYoung. SOAA, focused on “introducing the fields of aviation and aerospace” to local youth, brings the promise of guiding many to successful (and much needed) careers.

As part of the Southern Oregon Air Academy, students from the Rogue and Illinois Valleys alike are invited to learn critical skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (S.T.E.M.) from professional educators. Also, high schoolers will be given the chance to participate in a two-year Flight Instruction Proram, where students will achieve their private pilot license and instrument rating prior to graduation.

Additionally, SOAA has arranged partnerships between local flight instruction companies and Alaska Airlines to provide students an opportunity to receive a stipend from Alaska Airlines to become a Certified Flight Instructor and have a guaranteed job interview with the airline upon attaining all the necessary hours and rating to apply for a commercial airline pilot position.

Meanwhile, at the Josephine County Grants Pass Airport, the masterplan for a runway extension is underway. While Grants Pass doesn’t plan to offer commercial flights to the public, corporate air travel through Josephine County will become easier with a longer runway, thus bringing more conferences and events to the area.

So, whether you know of a teenager who would be interested in the Southern Oregon Air Academy, or you simply enjoy hearing about the world of local aviation, feel free to spread the word. In the following few years, Josephine County could become a hub for training the aviation professionals of tomorrow.


Additional Sources:

Lawson, Georgia (2019). Solving the Pilot Shortage. KTVL. Website:

Southern Oregon Air Academy (2019). Website:

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