“Timidity does not inspire bold acts.” – Dr. Mae C. Jemison, 1st African American female Astronaut
The often-quoted phrase: “The sky’s the limit”, really means that there is in fact no limit at all. For twentyseven (27) Alabama teens (ages from 12-16), during a three-day science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (S.T.E.M.)/Aviation Academy camp, learned just that. Marion resident, Faith Roberta Bryant, was one of those chosen through a competitive essay process to participate in the S.T.E.M. Academy camp.
Operation Aviation Foundation (OAF), founded by Mrs. Jessica Sanders Walker, vice-president of Sanders Aviation and Sanders Flight Training Center in Jasper, Alabama, hosted its inaugural youth aviation camp from July 12 – 14, at the Walker County Airport-Bevill Field. During the three-day camp, a diverse group of youth experienced actual flights in an airplane, flight simulation in a flight simulator, and received classes and presentations demonstrating how S.T.E.M. was related to the field of aviation. In addition, the group heard from a strong contingent of aviation professional from the U.S. Air Force, NASA, Stratolaunch, Northrop Grumman, the FAA, Fed Ex and meteorologists, about all the different types of potential career opportunities in aviation. The camp is the State’s only Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) cosponsored camp. At the conclusion of the camp, the young aviators received their flight badges and pins and “call names”. Following is what Faith “Doc” Bryant had to say about the camp:
“From July 12-14, I attended the Operation Aviation Foundation (OAF) ACE STEM ACADEMY. This wonderful camp offered a variety of great information pertaining to the field of aviation. About 27 or more children, including myself, were introduced to our “squadron” leaders. My squadron leader was Major Stanley Cheng, an Air Force F-15 fighter pilot stationed in Louisiana. He was essentially our guide or teacher. He provided a fresh perspective on the military and how heroic it truly is. I learned about the diversity of the field of aviation and how inclusive it can be. I was able to speak with many different career professionals and listen to the concise information that was brought to me. I even got the chance to have a discovery flight! For a moment, I actually flew the airplane. It was an experience I’ll never forget. The camp introduced the history of aviation, flight engineering, space exploration, aviation mechanics, flight navigation, and copious other amazing topics that really sparked an interest for me personally. One of my favorite parts was when a drone professional came in and spoke about the basics of drone piloting and the safety and regulations. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the OAF ACE STEM academy. I truly look forward to returning next year and continuing to push forward and explore the skies. The sky’s truly the limit.”