Aug. 2, 2017

At the Bob Hoover Academy, founded by Sean D. Tucker and Eric Tucker, in Salinas, CA, aviation is a tool to motivate and change the lives of at-risk and under-served youth.

“These kids come from a hard-luck town where gangs and violent crime are rampant,” said co-founder Eric Tucker. “We tell them if you keep your grades up and try to be a good person, we’ll teach you to fly.”

The program diverts the kids’ focus from crime and has turned rival gang members into respectful classmates, encouraging the students to focus on careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – which is also a focus of the No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign.

“We use aviation as a metaphor to inspire kids who don’t have many opportunities,” said Eric Tucker. “Learning to fly helps show them another life besides crime and other hardships they’ve experienced and helps them develop confidence and accountability.”

Originally named “Every Kid Can Fly,” the Tuckers approached long-time friend and aviation legend Bob Hoover shortly before his passing in 2016 and asked if the program could be renamed after him. Hoover was an air show pilot, U. S. Air Force test pilot and fighter pilot. Known as the “pilot’s pilot,” Hoover revolutionized modern aerobatic flying and has been referred to in many aviation circles as one of the greatest pilots ever to have lived.

Bob Hoover Academy Uses Aviation to Motivate At-Risk Students

“There is no better role model for these kids than Bob Hoover, who was not only an amazing pilot but an incredible gentleman,” said Eric Tucker. “It’s an honor to have his legacy live on through the Bob Hoover Academy.”

The Bob Hoover Academy has also partnered with the Monterey County Office of Education to create SAFE Flight, a full high school curriculum geared toward STEM and aviation, which ensures each student receives a high school diploma and provides each student with paid internship hours, regular sessions with a psychotherapist, hands-on training, college and career placement assistance and more.

Learn more about the Bob Hoover Academy.