Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Flight Academy: Weeklong lessons end with students flying and co-piloting

Past Chappie James Flight Academy student Catalina Rios takes off with flight instructor Eric Landgraf at Ferguson Airport. The week-long program returns this week.

The teens will learn math. They'll learn science. They'll learn a bit of mechanical engineering. All week, they'll be learning about subjects that most students have put out of their minds during the hot months. Fun summer for them, right?

Actually, it's going to be an awesome summer. Because on Saturday, 30 young boys and girls will take to the skies — many taking their first airplane ride ever at the end of the week-long Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Flight Academy, now in its 20th year. If they're lucky, they won't just be in the co-pilot seat. They'll actually put their classroom work to use and pilot the plane — with the help of a certified pilot, of course.

"I remember I got to help take off,'' said 30-year-old Adrianette Williams, a recent law school graduate who attended the Flight Academy her sophomore year in high school and volunteered at the Academy the next summer. "I learned about physics, lift, drag. I still remember a lot  of it. It gave me a great basis in science. It's a really great program."

The 20th Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James Flight  Academy begins Monday and the schedule includes classroom work, field trips to Pensacola International Airport, an Airbus and Coast Guard tour in Mobile, Pensacola Naval Air Station, and the childhood home of Pensacola hero, Air Force Gen. Daniel "Chappie" James, the country's first black four-star general or admiral. James died in 1978 at the age of 58.

The Academy is led by former military aviators who trained and instructed at Pensacola Naval Air Station, but now live across the country flying for commercial airlines.

Next year, the Flight Academy is expected to move its operations to the James childhood home. The organization has partnered with the city of Pensacola and various historical and redevelopment groups to use part of the home on Martin Luther King Boulevard for its program. Currently, classes are held at churches and other locations.

"Our goal is to inspire youth to seek careers in the aerospace industry, which is on the upswing in our country,'' said Academy director Cliff Curtis, a former Naval aviator who now flies commercially for United Airlines. "Our new flight academy will be the building block to facilitate and provide aerospace engineers, workers and pilots. We have several alumni who are either working in the aerospace industry."

The program is free to children ages 13 to 18 whose parents cannot afford quality summer programs for their children, Curtis said. The program is funded through community donations and sponsors.

"The community pretty much funds us,'' Curtis said. "We've had a lot of groups and companies that have really invested in this Academy."

About 800 children have gone through the program during the past two decades. There are 30 children enrolled this year. Enrollment is usually done in the spring on a first-come, first-served basis, Curtis said.

Original article can be found here:

No comments: