Young people interested in aviation invited to meet world renowned flying experts this weekend


IDAHO FALLS – If you’re a high school student interested in aviation, the tarmac in Idaho Falls is the place you may want to land this weekend.

Aero Mark and the Idaho Aviation Association are teaming up for the eighth annual Idaho Aviation Expo this Friday and Saturday. The two-day event has always been a huge draw for people, and this year is expected to be no different.

“It’s a great opportunity to see a side of aviation that you normally don’t get to see,” said Thomas Hoff, vice president of Aero Mark.

Those who attend will get a first-hand look at different types of aircraft and learn from the pilots who fly them. Old and contemporary aircraft will be on display at the event. Three of the world’s most renowned backcountry flying experts will be in attendance — Amy Hoover, R.K. “Dick” Williams and Mike Vivion.

“Two of them are Idaho natives,” Hoff says.

The expo will feature presentations on various aviation topics. A banquet Saturday night will give participants a chance to hear from U.S. Air Force Pilot Patrick Williams. Avionics and modifications for different types of aircraft will be on display as well.

Hoff says no airplanes will be flown at the expo. This is not an airshow. The primary purpose of the event is to help people make connections in the industry. Hoff says you need to start talking to people now, if you want to make it into the industry.

“If you want to do some research on learning to fly, this is a great place to start,” Hoff said.

“Most people don’t have an airplane, so get to know people that do. Most pilots are really eager to get people into the industry because there aren’t a lot of young people in it,” said Savannah Hoff, Thomas Hoff’s niece who helping coordinate the event.

fence plane
Plane on the tarmac seen through the fence | Rett Nelson,

Learning to fly is just one aspect of the aviation industry, Thomas Hoff said. There are many career possibilities for aviation enthusiasts, including meteorology, engineering and mechanics. He has an additional recommendation for those who want to work in aviation.

“All aviation careers rely heavily on the sciences, so STEM courses are very important. Beyond that, good writing skills and good reasoning skills are very valuable,” he said.

The event will kick off Friday, May 17, at 10 a.m. inside the Aero Mark hangar, and go until 5 p.m. Another full day of activities will kick off Saturday morning at 8:30 and go until 9:30 p.m. The event is geared to those within the industry or those who want to be. The event is free for high school students or Idaho Aviation Association members. For everyone else, the cost is $10.

“You’ll be able to see every aspect of how aviation works in Idaho Falls and around the state,” Savannah Hoff said. “It’s going to be fun. It’ll be great for anyone in the public who is interested.”

The Aero Mark hangar is one block south of the Idaho Falls airport at 1940 International Way. Click here for more information about the expo and here for a complete schedule.

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