July 31, 2014

Students “ACE” their introduction to aviation

Earlier this month, the JetBlue Foundation partnered with the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) for their  annual Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy initiative at JetBlue’s Hangar and T5 at JFK, as well as, JetBlue University in Orlando. Students from local aviation schools and programs in New York and Oakridge High in Orlando participated. ACE Academy and the JetBlue Foundation have a joint goal – to increase awareness of aviation-related careers among students from underserved areas. According to current statistics, less than five percent of pilots in the commercial aviation industry are women or people of color.

For the third year in a row, ACE Academy students in Orlando visited JetBlue University to learn about the various jobs available behind-the-scenes of an airline. Students also got to experience and fly in the airline’s E-190 simulators. This year also marked the first-ever ACE Academy in New York City. JetBlue Captain Jovan O’Bryant coordinated exclusive opportunities for budding aviators in the Big Apple including a special behind-the-scenes tour of JetBlue’s terminal and maintenance hangar at JFK and a first-hand look at the many roles that keep an airline running.

The JetBlue Foundation also supported initiatives in Chicago and St. Croix. The Chicago program was coordinated by JetBlue Captain Robert Holmes, a product of an ACE Academy. Twenty years ago, Captain Holmes was an ACE Academy student, a step he says encouraged his ambitions to become a pilot. Capt. Holmes credits the ACE Academy with giving him the opportunity to not only tour an aircraft but actually giving him the first chance to fly one.

The ACE Academy includes a curriculum complete with presentations by aviation pioneers such as the Tuskegee Airmen and aviation professionals from a wide range of industry careers. Students also take part in special field trips and conduct a “Discovery Flight,” where they receive hands-on flight training with a certified FAA Flight Instructor.

For more information on OBAP and the ACE Academy initiative, visit the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

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