Story by Gregory Mitchell on 07/16/2019More than 150 high school students from Atlanta and other parts of the country visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola July 16 through the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals' (OBAP) annual Project Aerospace Dream Flight, a partnership with Delta Airlines.
The OBAP Dream Flight, a national initiative designed to foster interest among high school-aged students about potential careers in the aerospace industry, is an organizational mainstay, something NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Timothy Kinsella Jr. said is pivotal to the continued successes of the civilian and military aviation communities.
"To have the opportunity to share with these young students extraordinary breadth of aviation training we do here at NAS Pensacola is really special," he said. "The history of this base is important to aviation communities everywhere and these young men and women will get an up close and personal view of naval aviation."
Designed to create awareness in and inspire potential aerospace careers, the OBAP Dream Flight, is a youth-focused program that provides an awareness and opportunity to cultivate an interest in aviation, according to Emmanuel Burke, the Atlanta OBAP Academy Director.
"We're a national non-profit organization and one of the things we try and do is show these kids what's available to them in the aerospace industry," he said. "We're showing them the Cradle of Naval Aviation' today, and we wanted them to be aware of not only opportunities that could be available to them in the civilian community, but in the military also."
While onboard NAS Pensacola, OBAP Dream Flight participants had the opportunity to tour the National Naval Aviation Museum (NNAM), watch a regularly scheduled practice of the NAS Pensacola-based Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron the Blue Angels and tour Training Wing 6 facilities and simulators.
"Visiting [NAS] Pensacola has made me want to be a pilot even more, said Kennedy Spencer, a junior at Langston Hughes High School in Fairburn, Georgia. "This trip has widened my opportunities to what I can do to reach my life goal of being a pilot, but maybe now I don't want to limit myself to being an airline pilot; maybe I could be a Navy pilot."
Students also had the opportunity to view the NNAM's Apollo 11 virtual reality ride on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
OBAP, founded in 1976 to address unfair hiring practices among civilian airlines, has become a devoted advocate of minority Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) study. The organization strives to motivate youth to educationally prepare, increase minority participation in aviation and aerospace through exposure, training, mentoring and scholarships and to increase the number of underrepresented minority professionals, engineers, scientists and management personnel in aviation and related industries.
NAS Pensacola supports operational and training missions of tenant commands including Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC); Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC); the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT); Marine Aviation Training Support Groups (MATSG) 21 and 23; and is the headquarters for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).