Think Global Flight embarked from SUN ’n FUN today on its epic world flight to promote education around the world.
It’s been an endeavor five years in the making, according to Capt. Judy Rice, who will make the journey with navigator Fred Nauer, CFI-I and a retired airline pilot.
The two will stop at schools around the world, discussing the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Rice’s goal was to reach 10,000 kids around the world. She doubled the goal. “Now it’s up to 20,000,” she reports. “That’s cool, but that’s a handful.”
Think Global Flight has set up Student Command Centers around the world, allowing teachers and their students to follow the flight through the Think Global Flight app for iPhone, Androids, and iPads, as well as online at ThinkGlobalFlight.org. Students will be able to interact with the flight crew, as well as other students around the world.
A teacher who took up flying when she was 40, Rice said there’s also been special curricula developed to inspire students to “see the promises that aviation and aerospace hold for them.”
When the crew leaves SUN ’n FUN in a Cirrus SR22 donated by Ascension Air, they’ll travel around the United States through the spring and summer, reaching about 12,000 kids.
They’ll then continue the flight in the fall in a light jet. That’s because of problems getting avgas in other parts of the world. Helping negotiate that part of the journey, especially across Russia, is Thierry Pouille of Air Journey.
Having to change plans so late in the process is part of the lessons Think Global Flight will impart to students, according to Rice.
“When you are a pilot, you must have a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C,” she said. “You must be flexible to be successful in flight and in life.”
Using different aircraft is actually a bonus for the effort, she notes. “It opens up all of GA,” she said.
Joining Rice and Nauer on the first leg of the flight was astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
“Back when I was privileged to be a part of the Apollo program, the USA was #1 in science and technology fields. No one had ever heard of STEM because we were at the top,” he said. “Unfortunately today America is falling behind other countries. STEM is exactly the focus of Think Global Flight reaching.”
Think Global Flight is running three campaigns to raise the final funds necessary to complete the around the world flight, include “Be A Hero,” “Buy A SkyWay,” and the “Jeppesen Giveaway.”
Find out more about these efforts at ThinkGlobalFlight.org.