Wright Flight took its last participant of the year up for their graduation flight May 18, at Tucson International Airport.
Wright Flight is a non-profit corporation dedicated to “helping kids reach new heights.” The purpose of the program is to educate and motivate grade school students to pursue a future in aviation.
Robin Stoddard started the Wright Flight program in Tucson in 1986. At the time, Robin was a captain in the Air Force stationed at D-M where he was a pilot with the 354th Fighter Squadron.
The program takes place during the school year, starting in September and ending in May annually. Schools that offer the program require their teachers to integrate the Wright Flight material into their curriculum.
Any student can join the program as long as the school they attend provides it and the class is offered for their grade level.
“The main goal of this program is to raise a student’s grade point average,” said Capt. Adam Harris, 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron Operations Flight commander. “They learn the basic aviation history as well as basic aviation navigation techniques, then they have to demonstrate them with the instructor pilots on graduation fly day.”
The National Wright Flight program had more than 430 participants this year, in Tucson alone.
There is evidence that children who participate in the program go on to pursue a higher education and many pursue an aviation career field, Harris said.
Harris is a volunteer with the Wright Flight Corporation. This is his first season volunteering and he said it has been an amazing experience.
“The program is awesome, it brings big smiles and sparks motivation for these kids to pursue an aviation career or good grades at the least,” Harris said.
Not only to the children benefit from this program, the volunteers do too.
“It is awesome to be out there among these kids who have a passion for aviation like I do. They don’t know what I do for a living, so I talk to them and I tell them about my job and their eyes light up. We give them an outside source of motivation. Of course their parents and teachers motivate them, but sometimes that outside boost is what they need.”
For more information about Wright Flight or to volunteer, visit: http://www.wrightflight.org/Volunteer.html.