Mobility Aviators Inspire Youth
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there are about
600,000 active pilots throughout the United States, but that number
has been gradually declining throughout the past decade.
To work towards an interest in aviation careers, commercial,
private and military aviation professionals teamed up to host the
third annual Aerospace and Aviation Day on January 25, 2020, at
Orlando Sanford International Airport, Florida.
For the first
time, 97th Air Mobility Wing C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135
Stratotanker crews from Altus Air Force Base, Okla., attended this
event to help educate, recruit and inspire more than 6,000
elementary through college level students.
January 25, 2020 - U.S. Air Force Maj. Andrew Mazzarelli, a C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus Air Force Base, OK, demonstrates how to fly the aircraft to a young girl during the Aerospace and Aviation Day at Orlando Sanford International Airport, FL. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)
This event focused on inspiring students from across the Seminole
County School District, in central Fla., and encouraged them to
their dreams in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,
and aviation, by meeting real-world professionals in a hands-on
“I love going to these types of events because
it’s awesome seeing the children's reactions to every little thing,”
said Maj. Andrew Mazzarelli, a C-17 instructor pilot assigned to the
97th AMW. “Answering all their questions, seeing all the ‘wows’ and
their eyes lighting up as soon as they step inside the aircraft -
it’s something that will never get old.”
At this all-day
event, C-17 and KC-135 crews used their jets as static displays for
students to tour. As families toured inside the aircrafts, attendees
received the opportunity to get to know the crew, airframe and the
wide variety of aviation careers the Air Force has to offer.
“We are building the future of the Air Force every time we come to
an event like this,” said Capt. Damian Franz, a C-17 instructor
pilot assigned to the 97th AMW. “For many of the young children,
this might be their first time on a military aircraft, or even on an
aircraft this size. I know this is something that they won’t ever
forget, and this reassures me that we are making a difference in
Each crew from 97th AMW was comprised of Airmen
in different careers, including loadmasters, boom operators and
instructor pilots. This variety allowed students to explore the vast
possibilities of an Air Force career.
“For some of us here,
events like these are what started our passion for aviation and a
career in the Air Force,” said Mazzarelli. “The ability to share the
love that I have for this aircraft with a community is amazing. I
think it’s extremely important that the Air Force continues to
represent, educate and inspire young children to do great things at
events like these.”
Pilots and attendees from major
commercial airline companies were also in attendance at the event.
Similar to the 97th AMW crews, these professionals opened the doors
of their aircraft, allowing curious families to experience what it
takes to make an aircraft fly.
January 25, 2020 - U.S. Air Force Capt. Christian Allegood, a KC-135 Stratotanker instructor pilot assigned to the 97th Air Mobility Wing; Altus Air Force Base,
OK, speaks to a family about the aircraft during the Aerospace and Aviation Day at Orlando Sanford International Airport, FL. For the first time; Mobility’s Hometown sent C-17 Globemaster III and KC-135 crews to help educate; recruit and inspire young dreamers attending the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Breanna Klemm)
Additionally, guest speakers Taryn Fleet, Allegiant Air Airbus
pilot, and retired Lt. Col. Christine Mau, F-35 Lightning II
contract instructor pilot, spoke to students at the event about the
benefits of an aviation career.
Representatives from the
Mighty 97th gave young aviators a valuable opportunity to explore
the possibilities of an aviation career, with the hopes of lighting
a spark inside young minds.
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