About a decade ago, SAFE (Student Aviator Flight Experience) was a small program in New Jersey that started out as a group of pilots who came together to own an aircraft, build flight time to make it to the airlines, and expose others to aviation who may have not considered it as a career option before.
One of the pilots in the group was Khaled (Kal) Chebli, an EWR-based captain at Republic Airways and Chairman of SAFE. Kal joined Republic in January 2016, but even as he spent more time flying an Embraer jet, he and the group of pilots who began SAFE (who are now spread throughout the country in various bases at various airlines) kept the Cessna, maintained it with the latest avionics and maintenance servicing in order to build SAFE’s mission to train underrepresented students to fly.
“Our Republic EWR Associates have the biggest hearts and generously give their time to help these students, and because of that, the students in the program aren’t looking to fly commercially anywhere but Republic. They’re going to be great leaders in our airline someday,” Kal said.
So, what’s next? How big will SAFE get?
“We’d love to see SAFE in every city across the U.S., and hopefully, someday it will be,” Jonathan said. “That’s why it’s been so critical for us to make it scalable. We don’t want to depend on resources that other cities may not have. So we partner with organizations that would make sense no matter what city or state you are in. Then all they need are a few people who really want to help out and provide these kids an opportunity.”
Interested in learning more about SAFE or helping out? Check out their website here.