'Aviation Day': Foundation helps students to soar

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On Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Pontiac Alumni Foundation (PAF), with its several partners, launched its 2nd Annual Aviation Day at the Oakland County International Airport. The primary partners of the PAF for Aviation Day were Pentastar Aviation, Oakland International Airport, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and their young Eagles program, Black Airline Professionals (BAC), the University of Michigan Medical Unit, the Western Michigan University Aviation Unit, the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), the Tuskegee Airmen Museum, and the Pontiac Sesquicentennial Committee.

The students were separated into three flights with one flight flying in one of the Experimental Aircraft Association's aircrafts. A second flight would be touring the airport facilities, including the airport's new terminal tower. The third and final flight would be an opportunity to meet and talk with individuals within aviation, such as pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, etc. Some of the students would experience all three flights during the day.

Retired Oakland County Circuit Court judge, founder and president of the Pontiac Alumni Foundation, stated "We cannot express sufficiently our deep appreciation for all of our participating partners and their good work in making this a successful day, especially the pilots of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 13, who at their own expense flew their personal aircrafts to the airport and then throughout the day, flew each of the student participants in their personal aircrafts for a half hour. Before, during and after each flight, the pilots would expose and engage the students in their respective flight as to the pre-flight, flight and post-flight procedures; providing the students a feeling of not just being a passenger but being a member of the pilot's crew in the airplane."

He further stated that "the EAA is an organization made up of private individuals who have a love of flying and its enriching aspects. They are dedicated to bringing that interest to young people throughout the United States. The actor Harrison Ford was their most recent honorary chair. At the end of the Aviation Day each student received a certificate valued at $200 to access the online ground flying school."

Susan Siporen, a member of the EAA Chapter 13, organized the pilots that came out. She explained that "in addition to the certificate, each student received a certificate for a free flying lesson and links to scholarships by the EAA."

At the end of the day Deputy County Executive David Vanderleen presented, on behalf of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Certificates of Appreciation to the principal participants of the day: Pentastar, the event's host, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and the Tuskegee Airmen. The latter certificate was warmly accepted by Lt. Col. Stewart on behalf of all the Tuskegee Airmen.

In addition, Lt. Col. Stewart, a much decorated Tuskegee Airman and who, for the year in a row, concluded the day with an inspiring message for the students, as well as the adults present, received a proclamation from County Executive L. Brooks Patterson. The proclamation expressed Stewart's courageous acts on behalf of his country during World War II and throughout his life.

Pontiac City Commissioner George Williams presented a proclamation to Stewart thanking him and the Tuskegee Airmen for their faithful service to their country.

"These students not only had a chance to fly in these planes but as important and maybe more so, they had an opportunity for an historic journey with Lt. Col. Stewart. His personal resume covers much of the important happenings in the twentieth century," said Williams.

"Further, his encouragement to these students of the importance of preparation, through their education, with reading and other important academics, especially math and science, they will enable themselves to join their lives with the opportunities they will be presented in the future."

Published: Fri, Sep 9, 2011

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