Look out for Big Blue!

March 31st, 2014 by Amy Laboda

I remember watching with amazement as a rather large (in comparison to other aircraft in the pattern) silhouette of a JetBlue Airbus A-320 lumbered onto final during the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In last year.  It startled more than one uninformed show-goer as it settled to the runway.

The flight, which had come from Orlando International Airport, was full of teenagers, some who were flying in an airplane for the very first time. It was the brainchild of JetBlue and a host of other aviation youth organizations and aviation academies and public schools throughout the country. The 70 students on board that day were released to tour the Sun ‘n Fun grounds, to discover what aviation was about, from the ground on up.

“When we were coming down on the airplane, they [kids] wanted to sit on the wing to actually look at the wing as it operates in flight so they could see what we talk about in school; flaps moving, thrust reversers moving,” said Anthony Colucci, a teacher at Aviation High School, in Long Island City, New York, who brought several teens.

The kids were easy enough to spot in the crowd, wearing their JetBlue caps. But they weren’t alone. Mixed into the general attendance were a few other teens, some older, some younger, brought in by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (which sponsors an aviation summer

JetBlue brought an Airbus full of teens to Sun 'n Fun to teach them about aviation.

JetBlue brought an Airbus full of teens to Sun ‘n Fun to teach them about aviation.

camp and aviation high schools in several locations around the country), several Aviation Explorer groups, Civil Air Patrol youth divisions, the Air Force Academy, Build-A-Plane, Eagle’s Nest youth groups and the charter school Central Florida Aerospace Academy, founded right on the grounds of Sun ‘n Fun itself.

That school has grown prodigiously with the opening of its building (privately funded) just a few short years ago. It is pumping out young men and women who are well-prepared for technical careers as avionics repair specialists and mechanics, and is sending others on to universities around the country for additional education in aviation management, air traffic control, flight and meteorology. It’s a plan for re-energizing aviation through direct recruitment and education of youth, and its working.

I’ve heard word from one of JetBlue’s vice president’s of talent, Bonnie Simi, that another A-320 full of teens is expected on-site Wednesday, April 2, for Sun ‘n Fun 2014. Watch for it in the pattern, and be sure to thank the volunteers and various outreach groups participating to bring these impressionable teens, our hope for tomorrow, into the event in such a grand way.

And while you are at it, consider what you might be able to do to contribute. Have a morning you could spend in a classroom talking aviation?  Are you a flight instructor who could take on one pro bono student? Do you have an aircraft kit or project you could donate to a youth group?  If you are reading this blog you’ve probably got something you can contribute. Consider it your bequest to the continuation of a good thing: aviation as we know it. Here’s to the next century, and the next. It’s up to us.

 

Amy Laboda

Amy Laboda has been writing, editing and publishing print materials for more than 28 years on an international scale. From conception to design to production, Laboda helps businesses and associations communicate through various media with their clients, valued donors, or struggling students who aspire to earn scholarships and one day lead. An ATP-rated pilot with multiple flight instructor ratings, Laboda enjoys flying her two experimental aircraft and being active in the airpark community in which she lives.

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The opinions expressed by the bloggers do not reflect AOPA’s position on any topic.

  • FrostedCW3

    We need more of this. The youth of today is the only real hope to reinvigorate G.A. To my way of thinking, that means start getting them interested as soon as possible, and if local schools can help, as well as community leaders, all the better.

  • Jamie Beckett

    Thank you for taking notice and waving the flag, Amy. JetBlue and the JetBlue Foundation have been outstanding partners for SUN ‘n FUN, Central Florida Aerospace Academy, Traviss Career Center, and the Polk Aviation Alliance. Each time I think they’ve outdone themselves they come right back and deliver more than we ever expected of them. This is one company that takes their claim of corporate social responsibility seriously. They’re supporting educational programs, providing insight to students, and resources to teachers that make all the difference.

    I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective with your readers. This is exactly the sort of can-do spirit that deserves positive press. Go JetBlue!

  • The Rossch Group

    Smart move by jetBlue. Time for GA and CommercialAv to start breaking down some of the long-standing barriers and work together. A healthy aviation sector is in everyone’s interest.

  • steven madanat

    my son start flying when he was 9 years old he is 14 years old know he got around 65 hours withe over 20 hours ground school through king school on line course we study me and him ground school captain sami madanat start fly out of john c tune airport in nashville tn kjwn is a class G air space last year the captain decide that he want to move to the international airport which is KBNA class D air space the captain could do all the maneuvers start from take off landing stalls even spins he do it all he got flight tomorrow 04/05/2014 at 3 pm .you guys could check sami on you tube just type in sami madanat in the search box ……I WISH JET BLUE OR ANY OTHER AIR LINE COULD SUPPORT MY SON. this is my email smadanat@bellsouth.net

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