Many people love aviation. There’s something about watching a plane takeoff, defying the laws of physics, that fills us with fascination. The AVL Welcome Crew was born out of one young man’s love for aviation and has helped the airport become an even more welcoming place for travelers.
Before he was even one year old, Logan’s family would bring him and his sister yearly to St. Martin’s and would watch the planes take off and land. Logan developed a love for planes and aviation that continued as he got older. Living near the airport, Logan frequently came to watch planes and monitor flight schedules and patterns. When the parking deck was built, that offered an even better vantage point.
Logan is on the Autism spectrum. His family wanted to find a way for him to not only fulfill his love of airports and aviation, but to also find a sense of belonging and purpose. Logan’s family reached out to the airport, and the AVL Welcome Crew was born. An extension of the volunteer ambassador program, the AVL Welcome Crew developed into a role in which Logan could greet passengers and help answer questions – all while in the midst of the aviation industry, a place he enjoys.
Logan has a uniform, an airport badge, and a list of responsibilities for his role. Some of the things he does includes greeting passengers, answering questions, handing out goodies (like coloring books, stickers, and crayons), returning wheelchairs to the airlines, and helping to stock some of the brochure racks. He currently comes three days a week for 2-3 hours at a time and has built relationships with the employees and tenants at the airport. He has become especially close to the TSA employees because he is often stationed near the TSA checkpoint, and his family has noticed that the TSA team members go out of their way to say hello and get to know Logan.
Logan has the amazing ability to learn the flight schedule and always seems to know which flight is exiting as he greets people. Since starting the program his family has noticed that Logan’s confidence has grown, and they also have noticed improvement in his communication. When Logan first started, his caregiver would stand by his side; now, his caregiver is able to stay a distance away and only step in if Logan needs assistance. Logan and the program have been featured in different publications, including the International Airport Review, an international aviation publication.
The program is a wonderful addition to the airport and benefits everyone. Logan loves the time he spends here, and the program offers him opportunities to grow. Air travel can be stressful, so passengers appreciate being greeted by a friendly face. The program also gives airport employees an opportunity to meet someone new and learn more about autism. There is potential for the AVL Welcome Crew to grow in the future, which will provide even more opportunities to impact the lives of those in the program, passengers, and airport staff. It is amazing to think that an entire program, which has had international impacts, started out of one young man’s love of aviation and the support of his family.