Black aerospace organization offering local kids an opportunity to attend its Orlando conference to learn about aviation careers.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
A group of local kids soon will get to explore the world of aviation and its career opportunities.
The Organization of Black Aerospace Professional, Inc. (OBAP) is looking to take 20 boys and girls ages 12 and up to its Aerospace Youth Day event on Aug. 10 in Orlando from 9:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. free of charge.
The event will take place at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando and is being held in accordance with OBAP’s 41st Annual Convention and Career Exposition. It’s scheduled Aug. 9-11.
Danny Fuqua, a student pilot in training who will soon have his license, explained about the opportunity for local youth.
“It is one day set aside during the convention and during this time they will be introduced to aerospace and aviation careers. They will meet professional airline pilots, military pilots, astronauts and more. It will be a fun experience. OBAP has sponsors, which allow us to take some kids for free.”
Fuqua, who served in the Army for 29 years, attends Daytona Aviation Academy. The school currently has 25 students and 10 instructors.
He also is a member of OBAP and is president of the Central Florida chapter of the Black Pilots of America (BPA).
In addition, Fuqua is co-pastor with his wife, Muriel, of Word of Praise Family Church.
July 30 deadline
Fuqua will be driving the kids over in a van to the event on behalf of OBAP.
“I decided to do this trip for the kids because I have a passion for my community and the youth in my community. I want to give back. I grew up in a rural town called Edwards, Mississippi,” he related.
“When I look at the youth today, I believe that if they put 100 percent into what they want to do in life and had mentors that they can achieve anything. In the Black community, we too often look at sports being a kid’s ticket to success but I beg to differ.’’
Parents who want their children to participate in the OBAP Aerospace Youth Day, can contact Danny Fuqua and complete an application/permission slip.
The deadline to sign up is July 30.
Aerospace Youth Day is being sponsored by the United States Air Force, NASA, RedTail.org, FedEx Express and the Academy of Model Aeronautics.
The goal of OBAP Aerospace Youth Day is to attract young Black kids into aviation and aerospace careers.
Fuqua expressed, “It’s important to educate our youth about aviation and aerospace careers. For many years, we as a Black race didn’t know much about a lot of these professional jobs in aviation.
We didn’t know that we could go an educate ourselves and meet the requirements for these career fields.
“Aviation is one of the career fields that quite a few Blacks still don’t know much about. When Blacks travel we don’t see many Black pilots. We are missing career opportunities in aviation.”
A lofty goal
Organizations like OBAP and BPA are working to attract the youth toward aviation and aerospace careers.
Fuqua added, “The Black Pilots of America and Daytona Aviation are working together with a goal to go into our communities and introduce aviation to our kids.
“We want to let them know that they can get a pilot license and go out into that career field and others like air traffic controllers, airplane mechanics, engineers who built planes, directors of airport operations and more.”
Fuqua enjoys flying and calls it a wonderful experience.
He said, “It’s like no other experience. Flying is my passion. It relaxes me. It is great being airborne just cruising at 7,000 feet. You look down and see people stuck in traffic while you’re cruising in air. I equate flying to be as enjoyable as fishing to those who love to fish.”
Becoming a pilot requires attending a local flight school, gaining 40 flight hours of training, passing a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) background check and completing the training.
“It’s a lot easier to do than most people think. I started when I was pursuing my bachelor’s degree.
I had a break and nothing to do. So, I decided to go to a local aviation school. I met the physical requirements and went on from there. I have been hooked every since,” Fuqua noted.
More on OBAP
According to its website, the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals was founded in 1976.
It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of minorities in all aviation and aerospace careers.
OBAP encourages diversity in the industry by supporting aspiring aviation professionals through mentoring, scholarships, training and youth-focused education programs through Project Aerospace.
The organization has 3,000 members that are professionals internationally including, astronauts, commercial pilots, military aviators, maintenance technicians, flight instructors, air traffic controllers, flight attendants and students.
For more information on the OBAP Aerospace Youth Day or to register your child for the trip, contact Danny Fuqua at 386-566-8914.