Paying It Forward

My interest in aviation education frequently leads to discussions with my peers about the current world of aviation education from our desire to introduce children at a very young age all the way through to career training in higher education. I should define my reference to a “peer” as, like I, someone whose career has “matured”. Add to that a feeling we share that motivates us to want to share some of what we have learned along the way. I think the current vernacular is called “paying it forward”. I especially enjoy talking to youngsters who are enamored with airplanes. I was, and still am, and they enjoy listening to someone who can tell them about flying in a way they can understand. Maybe having grandchildren helps me relate at their level, or possibly, I haven’t really grown up yet myself. I like the second one!

I can remember, like it was yesterday, flying jump-seat on a DC-3 at age 12 with a crew that were anxious to tell me as much about what was going on in that cockpit as I could absorb. I’m sure they have passed on now, but those guys really sunk the hook in me in those days. That’s why I got into aviation some 53 years ago. If only they knew what a great career and what a happy man they helped shape all those years ago.

I remember when I was in high school and at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Institute in Miami. Some of the highlights of those learning experiences were visiting lecturers from business and industry who shared their knowledge with us. It was real world stuff that provided insight we weren’t getting from Teachers, Profs and books. I took notes like crazy and there weren’t even any tests afterwards. I don’t think we ever had a “visitor” who wasn’t enthusiastic about their career and that was contagious.

I’ve been talking recently with some friends who, like me, want to share what we can with those who aspire to a career in aviation. We don’t want to teach at the elementary or high school levels full-time but do enjoy an invitation to speak to those children on occasion. On the other hand, if there was an opportunity to teach at a college or university, that might be a different matter. What better place to help prepare those headed into the real world with some… “real world”. Sounds almost ideal… college students learn some useable information from those who lived, loved and learned it and they both share the satisfaction of having done it together.

But wait… there is a problem. Most of us with decades of real-world experience don’t have Master’s Degrees or Doctorates so we can’t qualify to teach at most colleges or universities. Why, you ask? Well it seems that “educators” have built a fence around their world that artfully excludes we, the perceived to be “under-educated”. Yes, I know about “Adjunct Professors”. Look up the word adjunct sometime and see if it doesn’t insult you a bit as an accomplished career professional. I must be careful now that this doesn’t turn into a rant.

So, if you agree that there is, in fact, a sadly under-resourced pool of knowledge among those of us “matured career” folks, lets come up with a way not to waste it.

  • Terry Carbonell

    People with aviation knowledge who want to share it DO have a place to go. Aviation Adventures, Inc. Is a relatively new 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to youth aviation education. We are working primarily with Boys & Girls Clubs and girl scouts providing an aviation education program. We just got a new program started at the Florida Youth Challenge Academy. Our volunteers are pilots, ATC, mechanics, college students and any aviation professional who wants to join us. We have even been blessed to have a WASP, Bea Haydu, talk to our youth.

    Paying it forward does always involve getting paid. We are all volunteer. We are attempting to raise money now from aviation enthusiasts and anyone else who cares about educating our youth so we can continue and expand our programs and purchase a Cessna 150 to provide FREE flight training to economically disadvantaged youth. Our goals are lofty but not unrealistic. We tell these youth to dream big and do not accept no for an answer. Well, we have to set the example. YOU are the resources that we need. We need your knowledge. We need your connections in the aviation industry. We need your enthusiasm. We also need your ideas, your financial assistance and your dedication and passion for passing on a gift that you received from someone, oh, so long ago, when you first left the bounds of earth on your first flight. We are committed to our mission.

    Please feel free to find us on the Facebook (Aviation Adventures, Inc. and look for the picture our Youth & Aviation Adventure Guide) or visit our web site We would sure like to hear from you and to partner with you in our mutual mission of providing aviation education and aviation career education to our youth.

  • Robert Parker

    I agree that there is an underused information pool available from the people with real world aviation experience. I retired from the airlines and would like to share my knowledge but have not found an outlet to share true experience not just text book knowledge. It would be good if AOPA would set up a knowledge pool to help the new aviators. Myself and many others would be glad to help.

  • Juliet Lindrooth

    Bob, I disagree with you 100%. As a paid professional pilot, I find more opportunities to pay it forward and share my 35 years of aviation wisdom with our youth then I could possibly have time for. I spend most of my days off in the summertime sharing my passion and knowledge with others. Whether volunteering at a local air museum, taking little kids for rides in my airplane for Young Eagles, flying with the younger pilots who have some fears about flying or just talking to kids at the local high schools about a career in aviation. I could spend every day off from flying the “big Iron” educating and talking to kids about it. But here is the catch Bob. I don’t expect to get paid for it. I do it all for FREE!. That’s right Bob. Paying it forward is not about getting paid for it. It’s about doing it on your own time, on your own dime. And I have to tell you, it feels better then getting a big paycheck.

    Respectfully submitted

    Juliet Lindrooth
    767 International Pilot

    • Bob Minter

      Juliet, I am afraid that you missed my point! Like you, I spend lots of time (free) with children sharing my love for aviation. I’ve been doing this for most of my now 53 years in this industry. And I love every minute of it.
      My piece was intended to show a significant missed opportunity in higher education where students are about to enter an aviation career but are being denied “real world” interaction with matured career professionals because educators won’t let them in to college and university programs. I run into people frequently who want to continue and “teach” after completing their career but are turned away because they don’t have a Masters or Doctorate.

  • Mike Handrahan

    Very well stated Bob — doing what I can at the local level, and the youngsters are saying thank you, after their sailplane lesson, balloon ride or helo flight. One future aviator at a time ,,,,,,,