PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Approximately 150 teenagers who have an interest in pursuing careers in aviation toured Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola July 19 as part of a program co-sponsored by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) and Delta Air Lines.
OBAP's annual "Dream Flight" is offered as a counterpart of the Aviation Career Education (ACE) annual summer camp and the Solo Flight Academy, said Emanuel Burke, a United Parcel Service pilot who volunteers as the director of the Atlanta-based programs. Each year, students take a daylong field trip to a major aviation facility.
The field trip gives the students, ages 14-18, a chance to engage and network with professionals in the aviation industry, Burke said. "We like to make sure the youths have an opportunity to see what's out there for them and get them to do something positive."
After landing at NAS Pensacola's Forrest Sherman Field aboard a Delta Air Lines 757, the teens got a chance to interact with members of the U.S. Navy and learn about various naval aviation careers available to them.
Tour stops included the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Water Survival Training Facility and Training Wing (CTW) 6 at NAS Pensacola. The students also got to watch the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, perform during a practice session.
The greeting party at the museum included retired Navy Capt. Sterling Gilliam, museum director, and retired Marine Lt. Gen. Duane Thiessen, president and CEO of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation. During their visit, the students also got to watch "D-Day: Normandy 1944" in the museum's giant screen theater.
While at CTW-6, the aspiring aviators received a briefing and talked to squadron members before viewing static displays featuring the T-6 Texan II and the T-45 Goshawk.
At the Water Survival Training Facility, students witnessed the "dunker" in action, as air crews were trained in proper water survival tactics.
Cmdr. Bobby E. Brown Jr., director of diversity and inclusion for Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said the Navy gets a great benefit from collaborating with OBAP on this project.
"We partner with OBAP as an opportunity under our outreach umbrella in an effort to reach qualified diverse candidates," he said. "We are looking forward to seeing some of these future aviators as naval aviators."
Burk said students accepted into either the ACE Academy or the Solo Flight Academy must have shown a genuine interest in aviation and demonstrated grades of exceptional academic caliber. While attending the ACE Academy, students are given the advantage to participate in activities with a strong influence on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program.
For more information about OBAP, go to http://www.obap.org.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, http://www.facebook.com/usnavy, or http://www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Naval Air Station Pensacola, visit http://www.navy.mil/local/naspensacola/.