100 Black Men to host annual Aviation Academy

The 100 Black Men of Greater Florida GNV Chapter will host its annual Aviation Academy in Gainesville on Friday, June 23.
Courtesy of Ray McKnight

The 100 Black Men of Greater Florida GNV Chapter is kicking off its fifth annual Aviation Academy for young minority students ages 12 through 18 who are interested in the field of aviation. 

Ray McKnight of 100 Black Men said this year’s program is like no other because organizers are involving individuals who specialize in drone piloting and the Air Force ROTC to show that aviation opportunities can be useful in the military as well.

“It’s a way to talk about STEM,” McKnight said. “It’s a way to get our African American kids involved in that program in a fun way, to teach them that those math and sciences that they’re learning can help them in the field of aviation.”

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The two-day academy will start at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 23, at the Santa Fe College Charles L. Blount Center, 401 N.W. 6th Street. The event will start with a welcome from President Paul Broadie II and include speeches from several city officials. It will also include two featured speakers, Capt. David Bridges, a commercial pilot, flight trainer and chair of the Aviation Academy, and Cortland Savage, creative director and founder of Fly for the Culture, a nonprofit organization that promotes diversity in aviation.

Organizers will accept same-day registration for those who come on the first day of the event and want to participate. Registration comes with dinner, refreshments, and a tour of the center.

“We’ll have the drones on day two,” McKnight said. “We’ll meet at the University Air Center, 4701 NE 40th Terrace, at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, at the Gainesville Airport and get refreshments in the morning, provide the participants with their T-shirts for the academy, and have a presentation by Ricardo Foster about the opportunities in drones.”

McKnight said the event will also include a flight around the airport, a flight simulator for those that are afraid to fly, and several stations to learn about aviation weather, aerodynamics, and flight familiarization. Residents interested in the free event can sign up now through the 100 Black Men website.

Courtesy of Ray McKnight The 100 Black Men Greater Florida GNV Chapter with a group from a past Aviation Academy event.

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