901 Now: Local aviators introduce the wonder of aviation to next-generation

Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 7:17 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Some local youth will take to the skies at the 3rd annual TEAM Memphis event this weekend. “Wings Over the Branch” seeks to introduce the wonder of aviation to the next generation.

This event is poised to captivate the hearts and minds of 50 young individuals aged 8 to 18, igniting their passion for aviation and paying homage to Col. Luke Weathers and The Memphis Blackhawks Organization.

TEAM Memphis is a group of locally based black aviation organizations that unite together to encourage students to look at careers in the airline industry.

Young minds will embark on a journey into the captivating world of flight through interactive activities, including free discovery flights, inspirational guest speakers, and participation from leading aviation companies and members of TEAM Memphis.

“I grew up in North Memphis and I remember laying in my grandfather’s back yard and watching aircraft fly over my head and remember being like, how can I be on one of those,” Ricky Batts said.

For twenty-plus years Ricky Batts has dedicated his life to aviation.

“I went into the United States Navy very early, just searching to be in the field of aviation, and by luck of the draw, they placed me into aviation, " he added.

Now, Batts joins like-minded aviators to captivate the hearts and minds of local youth igniting their passion for aviation.

“If they don’t see us out here, they might not think it’s not possible,” Ethan Hamilton said. “When they see people that look like them, doing a dream, being a pilot, military pilot, airline pilot, ATC.. That’s when they are able to envision their future.”

“We’re able to give them tours, so they can see people in these jobs, ask questions, get involved with industry professionals, and pick up a mentor, Lisa Williams said.

The overall mission is for students to get a taste of aviation while adding an awakening of curiosity and courage.

All in an effort to create a pathway to the skies whether from the flight deck or ground support.

“Seeing the kids being exposed, those who have never seen or experienced aviation before,” Ashley Wimbush said. “Once they see it or go up for their first flight, they’re hooked.”

“We want to break that cycle and bring the student in, put them on their first flight and hopefully the bug bites them a little bit and they are enthused by aviation and want to discover more, " Batts added.

The aviation event is on Saturday, September 9 from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Luke Weather’s Flight Academy.

The event is orchestrated by the collaborative efforts of numerous aviation organizations, united under the banner of TEAM Memphis. These include the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees, Taste of Aviation, Memphis Chapter Tuskegee Airmen Inc, Women in Aviation Memphis Belles, Civil Air Patrol, MBAA, Luke Weathers Flight Academy, and Alpha Whiskey International.

All 50 slots are filled but for more information on how to get your child involved with TEAM Memphis, reach out to the TEAM Memphis organizer at ashley.wimbush@hotmail.com

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