Bed Stuy Students to Plug the Pilot Pipeline

Local School Launches Flight Program with American Airlines

On October 18, 2022, students of Bedford- Stuyvesant Public School #5 began a journey that would literally prepare them to take flight. Elected officials, civic leaders, family, and friends joined them for the launch of the Dr. Ronald E. McNair Aviation Center sponsored by American Airlines.

“The scripture says raise up a child in the way they should go, and they shall not part from it,” stated Reverend Robert Waterman. There to offer prayers for the 17 grade school students in the program, the facility, staff, and well-wishers attending the event, Waterman serves as senior pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. “What you put into a child is what they become. PS5, Principal Gates, American Airlines, and others in our community are introducing our children to new things and setting an example of what schools can become when given the right resources,” he said.

The state-of-the-art flight studio will provide grade school students an academically challenging curriculum including cumulative flight hours, training on a simulator, and field trips to fly planes. Sponsored by American Airlines, the pipeline through grade, middle, and high school will prepare students for a chance to earn their wings in the American Airlines Flight Academy. “Important to us are the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and how those are woven into the workforce that we have,” shared Aviation Recruiting & Program Managing Director Cristian Flores. “We are excited that American Airlines is part of this story and unlocking the dreams of our youth here at PS5.”

“This project has a special place in my heart,” said Principal Gates, whose son, Jaime, developed a passion for aviation at an early age. Despite having no readily available outlets or resources to fuel that passion, his passion never died. Now an adult employed by American Airlines as senior analyst for Business Partner Support, Jaime Gates recently received notice of his acceptance into the American Airlines Flight Academy. Led by a team of American Airlines pilots, the program also included an induction ceremony of 17 future pilots. First Officer Paul M. Pierre, a member of the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, officiated. After the ceremony, PS5 top flyers showcased their skills using the flight simulators to take to the sky.

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