100 Black Men opens registration for annual Aviation Academy

Dr. Paul Broadie, president of Santa Fe College, speaks to students.
Dr. Paul Broadie, president of Santa Fe College, speaks to students.
Courtesy of 100 Black Men

The 100 Black Men of Greater Florida GNV Chapter is preparing for its sixth annual Aviation Academy next month and is currently seeking 100 teen participants ages 12 through 18 who are considering aviation as a future career path. 

The academy enrollment is on a first come, first serve basis, and registration is open until June 15. The two-day Aviation Academy starts 6 p.m. Friday, June 21, at Kika Silva Pla Planetarium at Santa Fe College (3000 NW 83rd St.). 

The free event will continue Saturday, June 22, at the University Air Center (4701 NE 40th Terrace) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring guests from NASA, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO), the U.S. Navy, Gainesville Fire Rescue and Infinity Aero Club Tampa Bay including two pilots presenting how they use aviation in their current day-to day jobs. 

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During the event, the ACSO will share how deputies use aviation during traffic control, search and rescue, and crime prevention.  

Navy Lt. Peter Fahan will offer a tour to the participating teens, showing them its P-8 Poseidon aircraft, designed for maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions. 

Gainesville Fire Chief Joe Dixon will show how members of his team respond in the event of an airplane crash and how the response and equipment used is different for other fires and accidents. Lt. Cmdr. Ricardo Foster of the Infinity Aero Club Tampa Bay will explain the wide range of uses for drones, including sporting events, insurance claims, traffic and movie production.  

“This whole [program] is about kids doing better and making better decisions,” said Ray McKnight, president and chairman of 100 Black Men of Greater Florida, GNV, Inc. 

Teen in airplane cockpit
Courtesy of 100 Black Men Participants of the 100 Black Men Aviation event will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience operating drone and flight simulators.

McKnight also said the two-day program will act as a gateway for teens to know and understand that they can have a variety of options when it comes to a career in aviation. 

“Aviation, a lot of times, when folks think about it, all they think is airline pilots, and aviation is so broad,” McKnight said. “The process of [guest speaker James Albury from NASA] going from a pilot to an astronaut is just another way to show them, it doesn’t stop here and that they can begin to do other things.” 

McKnight said parents who are interested in their teens signing up can go to the 100 Black Men of Greater Florida GNV Chapter website, Facebook, or Instagram. 

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