“Boeing has made significant investments in STEM education for youth,” said Wings of Hope President and CEO Bret Heinrich. “They provided substantial seed funding for our pilot Soar into STEM program, and this latest grant will enable us to expand the program and expose more of our youth to the tremendous opportunities in STEM and aviation careers.”
Highlights of the program include hands-on maintenance, repair and modification of an airplane to be used for flying medical and/or humanitarian missions; flying a flight simulator; and flying an aircraft under the close supervision of a flight instructor.
The spring 2019 pilot program served students from three St. Louis-area school districts — Ferguson-Florissant, Kirkwood and Jennings — and the Girls Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
In 2020, the nonprofit will offer two program sessions, one each in the spring and the fall. New also in 2020 will be a summer camp for Girl Scouts.
“As a pilot, I understand the value of programs that engage students in this way. It is incredibly rewarding to see students who are working on a plane in our hangar suddenly light up and make that connection between STEM learning and a career path they can create for themselves,” said Wings of Hope Board Chairman Don Kukla. “If not for participating in our program, the idea of actually being a pilot or a mechanic or a scientist might never have occurred to many of these students.”
In the U.S., the nonprofit Wings of Hope provides medical air transport services – free of charge – to individuals who need access to specialized medical care. The organization also works with partners around the globe to fly people in remote areas to emergency medical care and fly doctors into communities with no local health care. Wings of Hope has been twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In 2018, Wings of Hope served more than 67,000 people around the world.