I have always found wisdom in Ben Franklin's quotes. Two of my favorites are: "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest," and "Tell me and I forget; teach me and I may remember; involve me and I learn." Thanks to those that encouraged me to learn by doing, I now have the amazing opportunity to help youngsters stoke the fire of their own curiosity and give them the hope to believe they can do great things.
A Local EAA Pilot alongside three students.
Over the last four years, some Fellow Southwest Pilots and I have had the privilege to volunteer for a summer program in South Dallas called Circle of Support (COS). COS is a youth-centric community organization that invests in kids by giving them encouragement and opportunities to help them become responsible and successful adults. The students accepted into this program, despite their humble circumstances, are exceptional individuals who represent a small percentage of a large pool of applicants.
Every year, we take this group of students on a tour of Love Field, Southwest Headquarters, the flight simulators in Flight Operations Training, and the hangars. This year, we decided it was about time to make the aviation experience come alive. Thanks to the Dallas Executive Airport Manager, the Experimental Aircraft Association, CareFlite, Airbus Helicopters, the Dallas Fire Department, the Dallas Police Department's flight department, the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association (SWAPA), and ten Pilots eager to share their time and aircraft with these kids, we did just that. On July 12, almost 70 children from South Dallas experienced their first flight, and the majority sat behind the controls!
Our hope as volunteers is that these children will carry this experience with them as they grow and begin to make critical decisions about their professional and adult lives. With contributions from the organizations and volunteers mentioned above, the students from Circle of Support were given the opportunity to see that aviation is complex and a pathway to many different career choices, not just sitting at the controls. And should one of them decide that being a pilot is at the top of their list, they now have some tools and encouragement to help make their dreams come true.
An Airbus Helicopter Pilot explains the controls to a student.
CareFlite Pilot and Flight Nurse.
Jacob poses with some of the students.
One of the students talks with a Dallas Police Department Pilot.
DAL First Officer Marc Hudson with his very excited copilot.