flightlines jump photo

From left, Rick Larsen-EAA National Office, Nicole Blount, Michael Halpern–LPHS Aerospace Instructor, parents Phyllis and Steve Blount.

The US Sport Expo is has ended and want to extend a big THANK YOU to all the EAA Chapter 1240 members who volunteered at the EAA tent, the annual dinner, and or helping the Expo in various ways. Although we were challenged by some of the weather, it was a success.

Our annual chapter dinner had a change in the format. Instead of having a single speaker sharing their unique story of topic, we hosted a panel discussion on “Developing Options and Opportunities for our Youth in Aviation and Aerospace. We were not sure how much of an attraction the program would be. The dinner was sold out and the reaction of the program was better than we ever imagined.

Our panel had three people who have a passion for supporting youth aviation which included Cindy Hasselbring, Director of the AOPA High School Aviation Curriculum Initiative, Story Musgrave, retired NASA Astronaut, and Chuck Ahearn, President of the Ray Foundation. Each shared their thoughts on what our youth could do to be ready for their future and understand that their desire, commitment, and willingness to be lifelong learners in an ever-changing technological world be key to their success.

Our EAA Chapter 1240 was recognized for the commitment to and involvement in Youth Aviation Education. That led to EAA Chapter 1240 being selected to award the first National Ray Foundation Flight Training Scholarship through the world-wide EAA Chapter network. The Ray Foundation provided one million dollars to EAA to be distributed to qualifying EAA chapters to provide a scholarship to a young person ages 13 to 18 for their private pilot’s license, attaining advanced pilot ratings, or a glider pilot rating. EAA Chapter 1240 youth member Nicole Blount was awarded the first Ray Foundation $10,000 flight training scholarship. Nicole is also enrolled in the Aviation and Aerospace class at Lake Placid High School taught by John Rousch and Michael Halpern.

The EAA Chapter 1240 annual dinner highlighted the power of a community coming together to help our youth develop “Options and Opportunities”. There are many partners in this initiative that include the Sebring Regional Airport, the airport’s Youth Aviator’s Zone (YAZ), the School Board of Highlands County, EAA Chapter 1240, the Ray Foundation, EAA National, Career Source Heartland, and other community corporate sponsors.

Although there is presently a significant shortage of commercial pilots and aviation technicians, the aviation /aerospace curriculum we are conducting is only a vehicle to engage our students. These courses provide the students with hands-on learning in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). The concepts and skills learned in these programs provide transferrable skills that can be applied in any career field. Our students are introduced to many different career fields and the classes can help them make informed choices for their future.

It is said it takes a village to raise a child. Our community is coming together to further an initiative to develop “Options and Opportunities” for our youth through Aviation/Aerospace programs. Our youth are 25% of our population and 100% of our future. Won’t you join us in developing that future?

For more information about our Youth Aviation Education Programs and how you might become involved or support the effort. contact John Rousch at sebringeaa1240@gmail.com , call or text 863-273-0522. EAA Chapter 1240 is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. John Rousch is a pilot and Aerospace Technology Instructor with the School Board of Highlands County. He is also President of EAA Chapter 1240 in Sebring, Florida.

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