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Royal Aeronautical Society

 

Aerospace Journalism

What is it?

Just as there are specialist financial, sports and showbusiness journalists reporting on their respective fields, there are also aviation journalists. Though the days of national newspapers each having an ‘air correspondent’ are over - there are still opportunities for budding writers with aviation magazines and online aerospace news sites. There is also some crossover from defence journalists and travel/transport journalists who also may cover aviation on their beat. 

What does it involve?

The day-to-day job involves interviewing, researching and writing up news and features on aviation subjects. It involves being a news junkie and wanting to keep up with the latest developments in aerospace. These days digital and online media are becoming more and more important, and an aviation journalist today must know how to exploit the latest in social media such as Twitter, and might, for example, have to upload HD camera footage themselves to Youtube. The job also can include a lot of foreign travel, covering major airshows such as Farnborough or Paris as well as press trips to aircraft factories, or airbases. Occasionally you may also get an exclusive media flight on an aircraft to report on - such as in the back seat of a MiG-29! The drawbacks are that the job is not at the top end of salary scales. It also involves unsocial hours where you may be travelling away from home and family. Finally, whether you are working on a monthly, weekly or online, it involves constant deadlines.

How do I get to be an aviation journalist?

A good knowledge of English is vital along with a high standard of grammar and ability to create a readable story. Unlike some other journalism fields, aviation journalism involves highly technical information – with an emphasis on accurate facts. A science or an engineering background is therefore useful but not essential. An aviation journalist must also have good interview and interpersonal skills – you will be trying to get information out of people. A knowledge of aviation and aerospace is extremely helpful too. More important, perhaps, is the ability to analyse, sort and communicate the information you find and decide – which is the most newsworthy/important?   Some tips are: practise your writing. If you are at school or university get involved with the local magazine. Also you could try starting your own blog – frequenting aviation forums to get feedback. While blogging may be easy getting a paying job in this field is more difficult – it is a quite small niche sector. However, try writing, emailing or phoning your favourite aviation magazines and inquire about internships, jobs or submitting articles. Don’t be worried about rejection the first time. If you have the aptitude, enthusiasm and persist – eventually you will get there!

In short, if you love writing, have a nose for news, have a passion for aviation and like travel, then aviation journalism may be just for you!

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Case Study

Kelly McClure

Intern

Being an American, I have been fortunate enough to experience aviation across the United States, flying in a variety of aircraft ranging from a Beechcraft Staggerwing to a Fairchild 24. Aviation has always been a large part of my life having grown up with a father who was an airline captain and a general aviation enthusiast. I enjoyed everything that involved aviation, from following my father to fly-in pancake breakfasts to just sitting around the hangar, helping my father maintain airplanes, whether his or a neighbour's.

Eventually I realized that I could not live without aviation in my life and at 17 I began flying lessons, gradually working up the courage and confidence to seriously pursue my license. At 19 I soloed, and in the summer of 2010, at 20 years old, I passed my FAA written exam and flight test, becoming the first of my father's three children to earn a private pilot's license.

Currently I am a student interning at the Royal Aeronautical Society and studying a combination of international relations and business. At the Society, I am working and writing for Aerospace International as well as working for the Careers department. It is so important to gain work experience in any way possible to not only gain a positive reputation in the workplace, but also to find out what types of careers and opportunities exist in various fields.

Although I do not plan on flying commercially in the future, I hope to pursue a career in aviation journalism and eventually public relations within the realm of the aviation industry. To fly is a complete thrill and I want to express that upon younger generations who either have or have not experienced flight before. It is a confidence booster and extreme joy that is experienced by too few, so if there is a chance to go for a flight, don't hesitate for a moment! It just might change your life.

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Kelly McClure :: Intern Kelly McClure :: Intern