Seventy-year-old Vietnam veteran and CFII Rafael Sierra has created a short summer camp program in Thermal, Calif., that provides select high school students with ground school, one hour of flight training, and a student pilot certificate -- all free. Sierra's Coachella Valley Youth Aviation Education Program selects students on the basis of their essay submissions and their desire to become commercial pilots. He runs the program on financial donations and contributions from like-minded friends and local businesses. Sierra told AVweb, Friday, that last year 57 students "graduated" from the program, and this June 22-29 he will guide another group. Sierra says his model is simple and can be copied successfully across the country.
Eight high-school students will win a free trip to the Glasair build center in Arlington, Wash., this June, in a new educational competition announced this week by GAMA and Build-A-Plane. The students will participate in Glasair's "Two Weeks to Taxi" program, building two Sportsman airplanes and learning about science, technology, engineering and math. "This competition will give students the opportunity to explore general aviation," said Pete Bunce, GAMA president. "We need to expose young people to the exciting and rewarding careers that await them in the aerospace industry and ensure they have the tools to succeed." High schools who wish to enter the competition should call Katrina Bradshaw of Build-A-Plane at 804-843-3321 immediately, as space in the competition is limited.
What do you get when well-funded individuals who made their fortunes as corporate efficiency experts apply themselves to the mission of improving flight training? You get Redbird. In five years since its birth, Redbird has gone from zero to number one in its market niche. It has put more than 300 active-motion flight simulators into general aviation pilot training centers. It has introduced a compelling price for performance argument within the flight training segment. And it has wrapped all that in an attractive package that doesn't just improve learning efficiency for students, it also draws more of them to flight schools. It's not just a simulator; it's a sales tool. And with it, Redbird is on its way to creating the perception that if you're not offering a Redbird simulator, you're behind the curve. If that feeling becomes pervasive, Redbird won't just lead the market, it will be the market. Maybe it already is. Whatever the case, where Redbird is may not be as important as where it's going.
Build A Plane, a nonprofit group based in California that helps school groups to build their own aircraft, held its fourth annual Teachers Day at EAA AirVenture this week in Oshkosh. The program, which ran on Tuesday in the EAA Museum, provided a free day at AirVenture for about 150 teachers from around the country, along with a series of forums about how to incorporate aviation into their classrooms to help teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math. "We are amazed by how many great opportunities are out there to use aviation to engage and motivate kids to learn," said Lyn Freeman, Build A Plane president. "Today's students respond to real-world applications, and aviation really captures their attention." The Teachers Day program was co-sponsored by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and EAA.
Tired of touch-and-goes in the pattern and begging friends to go for a $100 hamburger? Need a challenge to re-energize your flying? Even private pilots can tow gliders, although a commercial certificate will let you do it for money. AVweb's Rick Durden lays out what it takes to help those engine-less soaring birds.
Come winter, many pilots hang up their flight bags and wait for warmer, sunnier flying weather. That's a shame, because they could be participating in one of the season's best flying activities: Skiplanes. Flying a small plane on skis is one of the most enjoyable ways to keep flying once snow covers the ground. AVweb's Rick Durden tells how.