The Summer Aviation Institute
Dreams Taking Flight
Scott has always been concerned with the academic disparities that African American and other students face. And he has always been a
teacher, whether it is through the arts or extracurricular activities. And he believes in having fun while learning.
“I don’t want to be frustrated in my retirement age,” Scott said with a laugh. “I want to have fun. And if it isn’t fun, I know how to politely excuse
Flight means so much more than flying an airplane to Scott. It means STEM, science, technology, engineering and math. And flight also
represents livable-income wages in a field that will be experiencing a lot of retirements in the next 3-4 years. And so how do you get the kids
interested in all of that? Through flight.
On April 29, Scott introduced a group of students and their parents to flight through the EAA Young Eagles Rally at the Morey Airfield in
Middleton. The students were able to experience firsthand the sensation of flight. It was a hook that he used to invite students and parents to
his Aviation Awareness Institute, a nine-week program that ended August 19th.
“We had something like 38 kids at the Young Eagles program and we had 28 here for our first session,” Scott said about the Urban League of
Greater Madison where the classes were held. “And then we leveled out at 15 kids coming regularly.”
The students and the adults attended two-hour seminars every Saturday. The first half featured movies like one on World War II’s Red Tail
Squadron and the Tuskegee Airmen. Or there were speakers with some connection to flight.
“The first guest speaker was Elwood Brown who is the executive director of the Wisconsin Historical Society,” Scott said. “He’s also a pilot.
He agreed last January that he would come and speak. He spoke about the whole history of flight and how he got to where he is. I tell people
that when you talk about what you are doing, our kids may not recognize it or relate to it. But when you say, ‘When I was your age, these are the
kinds of things that I had to overcome in order to get where I am today,’ the kids hear it. We had Scott Tabbet who is the grounds school
instructor for the EAA Program. He gave a real positive overview of the whole concept of flight. Terry Kramer who is a glider pilot talked about
the whole aspect of the math part of it. How do you determine the distance and the amount of fuel that you need depending on the weather and if
you are going into the wind? He took those concepts and he put it into a visual by showing the wind socks. We had someone bring in an
eclectic parrot. He showed them how the wings of the birds correlate to the wings of planes and how birds can use their tail feathers to
elevate or go down. It made it meaningful, so now the kids when they went to the fly-in and see or hear a plane, they automatically make the
The second half of the seminar was devoted to creating different types of paper airplanes. Scott would supply the paper that showed where the
folds should be made. And the students and kids worked together to create their planes.
“The kids found it a lot of fun to make those things,” Scott said. “I would say, ‘We’re going down to the flight landing site and test our planes.’
They would say, ‘Where is that?’ And I said, ‘Follow me’ and we went down to the Urban League lobby. The kids just loved it. Adults were flying
them. It becomes a collaboration between the kids and their parents. They toy around with their planes and they see them going that distance of
25 ft., they get excited. It’s a progression and it’s a learning experience. And it’s improving. That’s what we want our kids to understand, that
they can do this stuff. It’s fun. It’s meaningful.”
And then Scott hopes that the fun and the thrills will lead to the children to think that they can do this stuff. And eventually that line of thinking
might just lead to a family-supporting, fascinating career.
“I want parents to understand that there are opportunities not only just for pilots, but also for engineers,” Scott emphasized. “Without the
engineers and the mechanics, those pilots are grounded. I saw something that said that the engineers and the mechanics said that they just let
the pilots use the planes, but they were actually their planes because they were the ones who make them fly. I’m trying to get parents as well
as kids who may have no idea about the historical part of it to understand how it can pertain to them as they move ahead and pursue different
roles. Right now, I know in 2020, there is almost going to be a mass exodus of those pilots who reach mandatory retirement age. At age 65,
they have to go. The aviation industry is looking for pilots, mechanics, engineers and other positions in the aviation industry. I went to the high
schools that have some high school kids involved.”
Due to the success that he has experienced so far, Scott plans to continue the program this fall. He hopes to establish a Black pilots group in
“I’m interested in having a conversation with the Red Tail Squadron to see if I can get a BPA, a Black Pilots Association here in Madison
because Madison being the capital of Wisconsin, it seems to me that would be the most logical place to be,” Scott said. “And there is nothing
here like it. There is nothing in Milwaukee. There is nothing in Wisconsin. Edgewood has an aviation class, but you have to be enrolled at
Edgewood and the tuition is prohibitive for a lot of kids.”
And the program concept continues to evolve as Scott makes more contacts.
“I received a notice from a young lady who started a business and her business is drones,” Scott said. “She heard about this program, so she
wants to have a conversation about maybe doing some collaboration. I’m saying, ‘Fine, just let me know when you want to get together. I’m
just hoping that comes to fruition. And if not, the seed was planted in my head, ‘Hmmm, maybe we can do that.’ Maybe we can find an engineer
who can help the kids create their own motorized flight program. There are a lot of things going on in my head on what to do. But it is fun. And
that’s the part that keeps me going.”
Mankind has always dreamed of flight. Scott wants the children — and their parents — to not only dream of flying in the air, but also flying in
their lives as they also dream and envision what they can achieve in their lives. Welcome aboard.
For more information about the Summer Aviation Institute, email Richard Scott at email@example.com.
By Jonathan Gramling
Mankind has always dreamed of flight since the dawn of
time. Flight represents freedom and is an enduring image
of African American literature. Flight lifts us up from our
every day drudgery and allows us to see the big picture,
to feel larger than everything that faces us in the world
Richard Scott, the retired multicultural services
coordinator at East High School, has always had an
interest in aviation.
“I became interested in aviation when I was a kid,” Scott
recalled. “We had kites and we flew balsa planes and