Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals visits Kentucky Air Guard Base

Kentucky Air National Guard Staff Report

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Lt. Col. Jeff Harrison, a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 pilot for the 165th Airlift Squadron, shows the cockpit of the C-130 to middle and high school students at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. on June 14, 2013. The students were participating in an Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals aviation camp designed to educate young minds about the world of aviation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. – More than 80 Louisville-area youth visited the 123rd Airlift Wing to learn about career opportunities in military aviation and the Kentucky National Guard June 14.

To view all the photos from this event, please click HERE.

The day’s events, which included static tours of a Kentucky Air Guard C-130 transport plane, a tour of the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, different teams within the 123rd Civil Engineer Squadron, and a visit to the 123rd Maintenance Squadron were the culmination of a week-long Summer Aviation Career Education Academy held by the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals.

“The organization is built to introduce, educate, promote, and mentor youth that have an affinity towards the aerospace profession,” explained Lt. Col. Jeff Harrison, an African-American C-130 pilot in the Kentucky Air Guard and member of OBAP. He also flies 757s for United Parcel Service, an academy sponsor.

The visit to the Kentucky Air Guard began with the students being welcomed by 123rd Vice-Wing Commander, Col. Robert Hamm, and the Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Curtis Carpenter. Next, they received briefings on aircrew flight equipment before touring the rest of the base.

The camp exposed the students, who ranged in age from 6th-graders to high school seniors, to many aviation opportunities, Harrison said. Earlier in the week, the students visited the air traffic control tower at Louisville International Airport, and visited the Air Force Aviation Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The students logged flying time at Bowman Field that can be applied toward a private pilots’ license and also took part in the Challenger Learning Center at the Academy of Shawnee in Louisville – having the opportunity to go through many training exercises that astronauts get to go through when in space. Additionally, they visited Tennessee State University and learned what to do to prepare for college.

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Tech. Sgt. David Clark, 165th Airlift Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, shows a Louisville-area student the equipment used by the C-130 Hercules aircrew at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky. on June 14, 2013. The students were participating in an Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals aviation camp designed to educate young minds about the world of aviation. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

The mayor of Louisville, Mayor Greg Fischer, came out to speak at the opening day of the course, and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky came out to address the adolescents at their graduation at the end of their week-long program.

The program emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, which are part of the core syllabus. They also teach life lessons and skills such as communication, conflict resolution, and goal-setting.  They partner with Louisville-area businesses such as UPS, Louisville International Airport, and General Electric. This ACE academy is replicated throughout the United States in many other major cities.

Harrison explained that the program is open to everyone, and that many Kentucky Air National Guardsmen were able to have their children attend this year.

The Kentucky National Guard has supported the aviation camp for 16 years, Harrison said. The Kentucky Air Guard’s Col. Ken Dale, 123rd Maintenance Group commander, was instrumental in forging the partnership with the Guard, Harrison said.

OBAP, formed in 1976, is a non-profit organization that in addition to the ACE aviation camp, offers scholarships, aviation education programs and flight training instruction.

“What we hope is to make individuals successful in their quest to become an aerospace professional,” Harrison said.

For more information on the organization and the Aviation Career Education Academy visit: www.obap.org or contact Lt. Col. Jeffory Harrison at Jeffory.harrison@ang.af.mil

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