A total of 27 students participated in this year’s camp, sponsored by the Atlanta chapter of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., a nonprofit preserving the heritage of the all-black World War II flying squadron.
The camp, aimed at minority and female youth, was hosted by Delta Air Lines and featured classroom instruction, field trips and flights in small aircraft.
Capt. John Bailey, a retired Delta pilot and education director for the camp, said the most important aspect of the camp was informing students about future career options in aviation.
“It’s important for career planning,” he said. “The concept is exposure to different careers within aviation. It’s important for students to have some ideas for what they want to do.”
Jared Hodge, a current Delta pilot, conducted most of the training for the camp.
Hodge agreed with Bailey on the importance of the camp in terms of exploring careers in the air and on the ground.
“There are different avenues to aviation besides just being a pilot,” Hodge said. “They learned about being an aerospace engineer, mechanic or airline dispatcher.”
The second day of the summer camp, June 18, was a special one for the students, as several original Tuskegee Airmen visited the group and spoke, along with aviation experts.
Some of the airmen who visited were members of the Atlanta chapter.
“This chapter has been all about promoting the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen,” Bailey said. “We have only six in our chapter. They are in their 90s.”
Bailey has been the education director for the camp for the past eight years and since then, has seen with each group how the camp curriculum is impacting the students.
He has however, noticed one significant factor in students enrolled in the camp most recently.
“[The students] are unsure of what they want to do,” Bailey said.
Hodge said, in particular, the flights in small aircrafts have made the biggest impressions.
“The expressions on their faces tell the entire mission of the camp,” said Hodge. “When they come back [from the flights], they come back as a different person.”
The chapter will host a flight aviation program in the coming months.