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Tag: aviation education

Champions of Aviation: Inspiring the Next Generation to Fly

Derek Rowe is a retired British military helicopter pilot who teaches the AOPA Aviation Curriculum at McGavock High School in Nashville, Tennessee. I was introduced to him through Cindy Hasselbring, senior director of AOPA’s High School Aviation Initiative, who is responsible for AOPA’s aviation program that is now being taught in 100 classrooms across the United States.

Rowe has put together an ambitious project to support the AOPA curriculum. Students are learning to virtually fly an aircraft around the world (equatorial circumnavigation) using five Redbird simulators. They will be exposed to the many challenges that flying internationally entails including fuel planning, weather, navigation, communications, and pilot fatigue in addition to experiencing what it takes just to fly an airplane.

To prepare the students for some of the real-life challenges they would experience on this kind of flight, Rowe is having the students read, discuss, and write a book report (remember those?) on my book, Zen Pilot: Flight of Passion and the Journey Within. They’ll learn how to respond to air emergencies and international travel, including my airplane’s engine failing over the Strait of Malacca at 14,000 feet, coasting without power 19.6 nautical miles while overloaded with 600 pounds of fuel and oil spraying on the 1,500-degree-Fahrenheit exhaust, getting put on trial for walking across the tarmac unsupervised in Oman, being charged $22 dollars a gallon for fuel, and clearing out full-sized crabs from under my bed before going to sleep on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

To give the kids additional incentive, I provided Rowe with five serialized “Courage Coins” and signed courage coin cards for the best five book reports. The coins are intended to be given to aspiring pilots to carry for inspiration and courage until they earn their pilot’s certificate and then “flown forward” to other aspiring pilots to encourage them to do the same. The coins can also be a keepsake to inspire people to go after their impossibly big dreams and hold at moments when they need courage to fly through the turbulence they may experience in life.

To help the kids who are afraid to fly or who are spooked by something they read in Zen Pilot, I also included my DVD jointly produced with Gleim Aviation titled, Overcoming the Fear of Flying: Unleashing Potential for Pilots and Passengers. The video helps to release pre-flight anxiety, calm racing thoughts, and transform terror into positive action so you can fly through life and the air with ease, grace, and joy.

To bring the experience together in the real world, we have planned a field trip for the kids to come and see the Citizen of the World with its two Predator drone engines, huge five-bladed nickel-tipped props, and 52-foot Twin Commander wing span while the airplane is getting the environmental system upgraded at Peter Schiff’s facility in Cookeville, Tennessee. Our hope is that the students will be able to experience firsthand an aircraft that is being prepared for the most challenging circumnavigation possible from the North Pole to the South Pole. They will be able to see what a general aviation aircraft is capable of with the latest technology, persistence, and a tremendous amount of support and love from many generous sponsors.

During the field trip we will light the Avidyne avionics panel so the students will be able to see what modern technology has to offer a pilot, including an Apple iPad Mini with Xnaut cooling, MaxViz infrared camera, L3 battery backup, Avidyne IFD 550/440 touch screen with synthetic vision/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi/glass panel touchscreen GPS, SATPhone Store satellite communications, Lightspeed noise-canceling headsets, and a STEC 2100 3-D digital autopilot.

And equally important, the kids will see that aviation is an inspiring and empowering vehicle for the following messages that can positively affect all of us:

  • “One Planet, One People, One Plane: Oneness for Humanity” – Citizen of the World’s call to action to connect the North Pole to the South Pole and everyone in between on a mission of global peace.
  • There are more similarities than differences among people. Look for the similarities and seek to understand the differences.
  • We all are Citizens of the World and stewards of our planet.

If you share our vision for changing the world through general aviation and are interested in sponsoring an event like this for a local high school or aviation group, please reach out to us at [email protected]. We need more champions of aviation to bring about positive changes in the world.

Robert DeLaurentis is a successful real estate entrepreneur and investor, pilot, speaker, philanthropist, and author of the books Flying Thru Life, Zen Pilot, the children’s book The Little Plane That Could, and the upcoming book Peace Pilot: To the Ends of the Earth and Beyond. A complementary 12-part worldwide docuseries, “Peace Pilot to the Ends of the Earth,” will be simultaneously released. A Gulf War veteran, Robert received his pilot’s license in 2009, completed his first circumnavigation in 2015, and recently completed his second record-breaking circumnavigation from Pole to Pole in his aircraft “Citizen of the World,” on a global peace mission, “Oneness for Humanity: One Planet, One People, One Plane.” For more information, visit PoletoPoleFlight.com.

Look out for Big Blue!

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 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.