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Pro Tips

Industry Professionals: The Benefits of Joining a Group

Whether you are a student, a current or retired business aviation professional, participating in a regional group or NBAA committee, being a member of a professional society or even just belonging to a group whose mission you support can have a positive impact on your career and provide personal satisfaction as well.

“Joining NBAA’s YoPro Council was a life-changing experience for me,” said Brett Melcher, an aircraft program manager with Encompass Health. “I’d never focused on networking before, and I found out there is a lot more to business aviation than I ever realized.”

“Joining NBAA’s YoPro Council was a life-changing experience for me.”

Brett Melcher Aircraft Program Manager, Encompass Health

Aviation students are encouraged to join a regional business aviation group, many of which waive or discount membership fees for those in training or school. There are also many other organizations that welcome young people, such as the National Intercollegiate Flying Association (NIFA).

Sean Breen, director of flight operations and chief pilot for Liberty Mutual, competed in NIFA while in college, but has found that volunteering for the group now that he is aviation professional has been satisfying and enhanced his career.

“You get to know the other judges after working together year after year, and we learn from each other,” said Breen.

Part 135 pilot Shanita Polk has found inspiration and guidance through her membership in Sisters of the Skies, which represents professional Black women pilots. A related group is the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

“We are such a tiny minority of pilots, so it’s good to connect with others like me,” said Polk.

There’s an almost endless number of aviation-related volunteer, professional and educational organizations, from airport advocacy groups and engineering societies to air medical transportation and disaster-relief groups. There’s also a group that flies rescue animals (Pilots N Paws) and LightHawk, an aviation non-profit that works with environmental groups.

Aviation retirees, with all their accumulated knowledge, are in demand as docents at museums, members of airport and airspace working groups, and more.

Most people agree they get much more out of participating in an organization or through volunteering than they expected. Brett Palmiero, who is on the board of the Pacific Northwest Business Aviation Association (PNBAA), says that volunteering with PNBAA has expanded both his professional and personal horizons.

“It has really challenged me and has been time well invested,” declares Palmiero.

Review some of NBAA’s group resources at, and

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