Budget cuts, liability, security, and staffing issues are keeping interested children from learning about aviation. That's why John R. Nelson created Why Fly Alone Foundation, a 501c3 organization dedicated to giving students in the New York tri-state area the opportunity to nurture their natural interest in aviation and aerospace. The foundation developed the breakthrough program We Bring the Airport Field Trip to Your School. Working with input from teachers and school staff, this program provides presentations that leave kids with a lasting enthusiasm for planes, flying, and space.
As founder John R. Nelson says, "Children have a natural interest in aviation and space vehicles. Providing a hands-on educational exposure to aircraft will encourage and create an environment of interest and opportunity." Unfortunately, many kids are barred from pursuing this interest purely due to a lack of options. Without airport field trips, it can be challenging to get and keep students engaged in the subject.
This creates problems not just for students, but for the aviation and aerospace industries in general. Both of them suffer from a shortage of workers at every level, and a lack of gender diversity. A major aspect of improving diversity in any field is nurturing kids' interest while they are young, and that's exactly what We Bring the Airport Field Trip to Your School sets out to do.
The We Bring The Airport To Your School Program
The program has multiple goals beyond encouraging students to pursue careers in aerospace and aviation, including increased awareness of underused aviation teaching programs, increase the presence of aviation and aerospace in STEM curricula, and make students aware of opportunities available to them both now and in the future.
To achieve these aims, Why Fly Alone Foundation's presentations involve:
- Collaboration with schools and teachers to develop individualized instruction that fits within their existing STEM programs.
- Experiences tailored for students of all ages.
- A safe, hands-on experience alongside an actual pilot.
- Instruction from a team of other qualified aviation professionals, including flight instructors.
- The ability to safely explore genuine flight controls in a grounded folded wing aircraft.
- Discussion of the shortage of aerospace and aviation employees, as well as potential careers within these fields.
- Handouts and other documents with detailed information.
We Bring the Airport Field Trip to Your School is designed to replicate the kind of experiences students were formerly only able to get at an actual airport, but with the advantage of a presentation tailor-made to fit into any school's STEM program. Aviation and aerospace are very broad industries that cover all aspects of STEM, from chemistry to physics, to design. By bringing a folded wing aircraft for kids to sit in and explore, the program encourages hands-on learning in a fun, engaging, and safe atmosphere. There are no keys in the plane itself, and far fewer liability issues than a traditional airport field trip. The end result is students who come away from the experience with a newfound appreciation for aviation and aerospace, and expanded knowledge of the STEM topics they're already covering in school.
As John R. Nelson says of the foundation itself, "There is no other program like this in aviation history that can do more to educate and inspire... STEM students and aviation enthusiasts. The future of our nation and the world will be determined by this generation of graduates."
A Free STEM Program Maintained By Donations
As a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization operated exclusively for educational and charitable purposes, Why Fly Alone Foundation is maintained by donations. The program itself is offered at no cost to schools, libraries, camps, and scouting groups. This removes the economic barriers that can keep students from participating in field trips and enrichment programs and encourages all kids to aim high for a thrilling, challenging career in the aviation and aerospace industries.
Currently, there is nothing else like what Why Fly Alone Foundation offers. The scope, goals, and presentation of the We Bring the Airport Field Trip to Your School program are unique. As field trips to airports become less and less likely in the future, this program is something many schools and teachers will be turning to help teach the next generation of pilots, aviation experts, and aerospace engineers. To quote the founder, "[It's] possible that one of your students could be among the first humans to set foot on another planet."
About Why Fly Alone Foundation: Why Fly Alone Foundation is a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization based on Long Island, New York. Since its inception, the foundation has developed several innovative educational programs to help increase interest in aviation and aerospace and fill the growing need for skilled professionals in these areas. We Bring the Airport Field Trip to Your School focuses specifically on giving students of all ages the ability to have a similar experience as they might at a functioning airport, in a safe, free program that meshes with any STEM curriculum.