AIR FORCE PILOT. TEST PILOT. Astronaut. That’s the career path eighth-grader
Matt has chosen, inspired by his great-grandfather who flew B-25s in World
Matt participated in a three-day Flight Link program at the EAA Aviation
Center recently, thanks to generous donors. Thirty students, ages 12 to 14, and
four supervisors participated in this intensive, hands-on, discovery program
of the aviation world. The students attend Sanford Middle School in Sanford,
Florida, a math, science, and technology magnet school.
Joseph Oliver, EAA 693706, a former Navy helicopter pilot and aeronautics
teacher at Sanford, noted, “I found out about the activities EAA has for kids,
but I had no idea how I was going to get the kids there.”
But before Joseph and his students set aside their dream, a donor
stepped forward. “When the kids first found out, they were in disbelief,”
said Joseph. Once in Oshkosh, Joseph observed the kids were not only more
attentive than usual but also had an opportunity to showcase what they’ve
learned in class.
Sixth-grader Kimberly, the only girl in the group, wants to design planes
when she grows up. Flight Link helped her understand what that might mean.
“Flight Link challenges the students to think beyond today and about a
career,” said Renee Mills, a parent and trip supervisor. Renee’s son, Kelvin,
attended the class. “He’s normally quieter, but on this trip he’s been engaged
and chatty,” remarked Renee.
Flight Link is one of several programs through which young people are
introduced to the careers and academic challenges found in aviation, to “light a
fire” of imagination and empower curiosity. EAA programs, like Flight Link and
Young Eagles, help young people believe in their abilities to achieve their dreams.
MAKING DREAMS COME TRUE: THE DONORS
MEET BUSINESS OWNERS Chick and Lisa Gregg. Chick’s dad was a B- 17
bomber pilot in World War II. “He got his first plane after the war,”
Chick recalled. “I flew with him a lot and got my license in 1977.”
Chick, EAA Lifetime 809875, attended EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
for the first time in 2006 and came again in 2008 and 2010.
As members of the EAA President’s Circle, Chick and Lisa
supported EAA’s B- 17 Flying Heritage program. This year they
expanded their giving support to youth by sharing the impact of
aviation education with a group of young people from their region.
The Greggs were introduced to Flight Link by friends and Flight
Link supporters Bill and Becky Bryan. “Bill sent me an e-mail from the
teacher of the class they had sponsored, talking about how much one
of those students had changed after the trip,” Chick said.
“My wife and I like to do things where we can see immediate
impact,” Chick said. “We felt it would be nice to get kids involved in
aviation, especially with the current shortage of pilots.” Dede Schaffner,
a friend of the Greggs and a member of the Seminole County School
Board, introduced them to Joseph and the Sanford students.
“It’s amazing to see middle school students so focused,” Chick said.
“If we see five kids come out of this program and it changes their lives,
it’s well worth the money. I hope it lights a fire in them to see what’s
available if they just apply themselves.”
Chick and Lisa plan on continuing their support, building on the
EAA MEMBERS DO incredible things. Like Chick and Lisa, many are supporting education programs for youth through their chapters, in their hometown schools, and through the Young Eagles program. The Next Step opportunities made possible by Sporty’s are most successful in helping young people move from the right seat to the left seat when mentors are involved, helping to motivate, encourage, and support these young learners.
Many young people share that the key to their success was the support of
someone close to them—a parent, teacher, or family friend who believed in
their ability to reach their goals. That belief provides a powerful incentive.
If we want to build the pilot population, to transfer our passion for flight
to the next generation, we have to get involved and share our resources, time,
financial means, and more. Flight Link is just one EAA program that shares the
passion for flight with youth from around the country. But it is not the only
way. I encourage you to share your passion for flight, to help us build the future
for aviation. Contact Elissa Lines, EAA vice president of donor and business
relationships, at 800-236-1025 or
firstname.lastname@example.org to make your contribution.
impact of Flight Link. “I’d like to bring the class out to our hangar for a
field trip,” Chick said. He is currently building an RV-7A with his three
sons. “It’s something I’ve always had a desire to do.” And a great way
to keep the Sanford students involved.