Lift Off: Youths to take flight with pilots

Derrek Vaughn | The Valdosta Daily Times Event Organizer Johnnie Blount, Vice President Aaron Jones and Logistics Chief Eric Johnson – all of the Legacy Flight Academy – host Eyes Above the Horizon, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Valdosta Flying Services next to the Valdosta Regional Airport. 

VALDOSTA – A group of young people will see Valdosta from a bird’s eye view this weekend.

The Legacy Flight Academy hosts Eyes Above the Horizon 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, July 13, at the Valdosta Flying Services next to the Valdosta Regional Airport. 

The free event will be hands-on, allowing participants ages 10-19 to fly in airplanes with professionals and explore aviation opportunities.

LFA, a nonprofit centered on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, highlights the significance and importance of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.

“We focus mainly on introducing at-risk youth or under-represented demographic within the aviation community to the world of aviation,” Aaron Jones, LFA vice-president, said.

The program is three-tier with the second-tier specifically spotlighting flying.

During Eyes Above the Horizon, volunteers will lead participants through four stations: leadership and character building, STEM, the future of pilot training with a virtual flight simulator and a flight with experts at about 1,500-feet in the air.

Jones said all pilots are certified.

“They’re fully engaged with the process and they’re there to make sure everything goes OK,” he said.

Representatives from colleges will attend to speak with the youths.

He said the goal is to offer hands-on experience while allowing participants to see Valdosta from a different perspective than they might not otherwise see.

LFA Logistics Chief Eric Johnson believes what’s great about the event is seeing the reaction of the participants after flying.

“You can actually see their brains elevating to a different level of possibilities of what they can do with their lives,” he said.

Johnson said the motto of LFA is “The sky is your limit until it’s your point of view.”

LFA member Johnnie Blount understands the event to provide exposure to not only careers but may speak to talents and gifts within the youths.

“It introduces them to a lot of options they have,” he said.

Volunteers are still being accepted for the free event. Donations are accepted and lunch is provided.

Registration is available online at legacyflightacademy.org through Friday, July 12. 

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