After weeks of sifting through pre-flight checklists, verifying calculations, and even soaring in the skies over Brevard County, the students with the 99th Squadron are ready to complete their training.
The Palm Bay-based nonprofit is named after the famous black unit that included pilots from the Tuskegee Institute training program.
Students, being part of the second class to complete the five week training course aimed at stimulating the interests of young minorities in aviation, will receive certificates at a special launch later this month.
âThe purpose of the program is to show students what it is like if they choose to enter this industry. It’s an introduction that exposes them to the basics of what is required, âsaid Ramone Hemphill, avionics systems engineer, who developed the course curriculum related to STEM flight and uses an aircraft based at Valkaria Airport.
STEM stands for educating students in four disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
The goal is to increase the presence of black pilots in the aviation industry, from engineering to the cockpit.
âIt shows it’s something they can do,â said Hemphill, who also flies with the young students for a practical flight lesson for each student.
The eight students – all middle-high school aged – will attend a special opening service on October 30 at 10:00 a.m. at the Emma Jewel Charter Academy in Cocoa. Certificates will indicate completion of the course.
There will also be more continuing education opportunities, including periodic invitations to funded trips to museums or aviation events, for all students who complete the course. There will also be a free follow-up flight in the future.
During the launch program, there will be speakers and other special guests who will talk to young people.
âWe will also be handing out special gifts,â Hemphill said.
He said he hopes the next training course will have more students – including girls – enrolling in the program.
âWe were disappointed not to have daughters this time. Last year we had six students, two of them girls. So hopefully we can get the word out about it, âHemphill said. âWe want kids who have a general interest in theft. Eventually, all of these children will have follow-up flights within the year to keep them engaged. ”