The Aviation Community Foundation believes the power of aviation will transform lives, and their mission to accelerate education in the aviation industry, led to their first Student Aviation Expedition. High school students were gathered nationwide after the organization visited all of their respective programs and invited them to participate in a New York aviation tour.

On Tuesday, May 16 the Aviation Community Foundation landed in New York for the Expedition. Students toured JetBlue facilities at John F. Kennedy International Airport and visited the Cradle of Aviation Museum before arriving at Vaughn College on Thursday. Prominent aviation figures Erik Lindbergh, founder and CEO, Powering Imagination; Scott Ashton, president, Associated Aircraft Group and Abingdon Welch, CEO, The Abingdon Company spoke to fifty high school students at Vaughn on what the aviation industry offers for their future careers.

The high school students came from participating programs across the country: Youth Aviation Inc. from Washington DC; OBAP – Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and Universal Elite from Houston, Texas; Aerospace Center for Excellence from Lakeland, Florida; Bob Hoover Academy/S.A.F.E. from Salina, California; and CAP Squadron X and Cradle of Aviation Museum Westbury Magnet Academy from New York.

The group flew in Vaughn College’s flight simulators, saw unmanned aerial vehicles, robotics demonstrations, and listened to controllers from Vaughn’s tower overlooking LaGuardia Airport. Following a STEM contest, winning students received a Sikorsky helicopter ride from LaGuardia Airport around New York City.

“The tour from JetBlue was really inspiring,” said Vanessa Barbosa, senior high school student. “A lot of us didn’t realize the various parts of the aviation industry before this trip and we’re leaving knowing more than we thought.”

Students with different career interests were side-by-side with peers who all wanted aviation to be part of their future. Giaznna Azzaro of AeroSpace Center of Excellence wants to join the air force academy; Kalvry Cooper wants to be a computer software engineer and is now figuring out how to tie that in with aviation while Tiara Tillis wants to study forensic science in college and ultimately work for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The mentors for the program included Ethan Martin, CEO, Aviation Community Foundation; Andrew Parton, CEO, Cradle of Aviation; Maria Sastre, president and COO, Signature Flight Support; Darren Pleasance, managing director, Global Customer Acquisitions, Google and Lawrence Cole, High-Growth Marketing Leader, Google.