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Columbus Inspires Tomorrow’s Aviators

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Douglas Armstrong
  • 14th Flying Training Wing

Airmen from Columbus Air Force Base recently helped a group of aspiring aviators' glimpse into the world of aviation, now they just have to graduate from high school. 

Throughout the month of April, Airmen from CAFB supported the Aviation Inspiration Mentorship program, an Air Force recruiting program aimed at inspiring the next generation of aviators through outreach and engagement activities. The AIM team at CAFB supported six visits at local schools to engage with students of all backgrounds and provided mentorship by sharing their personal experiences with the military and aviation. 

The Legacy Flight Academy hosted the Eyes Above the Horizon event on April 27, 2024, for local school age children ranging from 10 – 19 years of age. Although separate events and programs, the AIM initiatives this month sparked interest in and led up to the Eyes Above the Horizon event.  

Lt. Col. Aaron Jones, 14th Flying Training Wing Operations Group deputy commander, AIM mentor, and one of the lead planners for CAFB’s volunteering involvement in EAH, described the purpose of the event. 

“Legacy Flight Academy’s Eyes Above the Horizon️ program is a single-day outreach program that aims to develop and foster an interest in aerospace careers through flight introductions, mentorship, and immersion into the rich history and legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen,” said Jones. “The events are designed to engage with the community to motivate and cultivate youth to pursue careers in aviation, as well as encouraging a solid foundation in character and tenacity that enables them to thrive and contribute to society in a positive and productive manner,”  

As part of the EAH event, students attended a college and career fair featuring careers focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, experienced aircraft simulators and flew in a civilian aircraft. 

“For most pilots, the dream to fly started at an event similar to the one on Saturday,” said Jones. “This first-experience will no doubt be a driving factor for some of these students to either pursue a career in military aviation or just the military in general. It is a great opportunity to promote and recruit for the Air Force, as most of the volunteers have a military background.”   

Lt. Col. Jones explained the impact of this program. 

“The impact is immeasurable,” said Jones. “The smiles, the many “Thanks,” the parent’s excitement to see the joy in the expression of their children when they share the details of their flight is something that is wildly beneficial for everyone.” 

Planning for next year’s event is already underway. 

“This is the second year that CAFB’s AIM team has collaborated with the city to host the event,” said Jones. “With increasing numbers of participants, the city (of Columbus) has already asked for it again next year.”