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Eyes Above the Horizon Inspires Students

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Susan Roberts
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Over 65 students from Jim Ned, Wylie, Abilene and Clyde independent school districts, ROTC and Civil Air Patrol participated in the Eyes Above the Horizon outreach event at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, May 18.

Eyes Above the Horizon is an opportunity for children from traditionally under-represented backgrounds to develop and foster interest in aviation and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics careers through flights, mentorship and immersion into the rich history of the Air Force.

“We just want them to know that these jobs could be their future if that’s something they want to do,” said Major Boston McClain, 317th Airlift Wing C-130J Super Hercules evaluator pilot. “Sometimes seeing is believing for these young students, and we wanted to show them first-hand that we care and intentionally invest in them.”

During the event, students participated in team building activities and a college and career fair, walked through B-1B Lancer and C-130J Super Hercules static displays, received incentive flights in either a C-130J or a Cessna, flew flight simulators, and viewed a combat-off load of tactical air control party specialists from a C-130J.

Over 140 volunteers from five different major commands, including Air Mobility Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, Air Combat Command, Air Force Recruiting Service and Air Force Reserve Command, came together to make the outreach event happen. Members from the Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 471, provided private Cessnas to give students incentive rides.

Eyes Above the Horizon draws on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen to inspire students to go against the grain and establish a future for themselves.

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African-American military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Their hard work and dedication to making a change in the world around them helped encourage future generations to make similar progress.

As technology advances, STEM career fields are becoming more prominent and are needed more than ever before, said McClain. Having the opportunity to be exposed to these types of career fields, whether civilian or military, fosters an interest within young students to learn and grow, no matter what their background is.

Some students received over $2,000 in scholarships at the event. These scholarships go toward either flying lessons with a local aviation club or NASA space camp at Space Center Houston.

“I encourage every student to follow your ambitions, work confidently toward your dreams and don’t let anyone stop you,” said Col. Brandon Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “Our future depends on our younger generations growing and becoming better than we are now. It’s our job as leaders to inspire our youth and promote innovation with everyone, every day.”

Students were given three lessons to remember from the day: know that they are loved even if the world seems dark, don’t let someone squash your dreams and have fun in life no matter what you do.

“I draw on personal experiences and mentors in the Air Force and the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen, and it empowers me to want to invest in the future generation,” said McClain. “We don’t get to where we are without the help of other people.”