Vision of Flight

Vision of Flight

March 30, 2016

More than four decades ago, Mike McKenzie, then a 12-year-old boy, received a gift from his parents – a 10-hour course at the Brooklyn School of Aviation. That experience lit a passion for aviation in McKenzie, which he now hopes to pass on to children through Vision of Flight, an Orlando, FL-based nonprofit organization.

“Aviation is a way to give children focus and teach them discipline and responsibility, especially for children who might fall through the cracks of some more traditional educational and recreational opportunities,” said McKenzie, founder of Vision of Flight and a U.S. Navy veteran. “Aviation is also a unique form of STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education because it uses all aspects of STEM but aviation is also fun, exciting and challenging.”

Florida Organization Encourages Careers in AviationThe No Plane No Gain advocacy campaign, jointly sponsored by NBAA and GAMA, promotes the value of business aviation in supporting high-skill career paths, like those in the STEM professions that McKenzie promotes through his organization.

Vision of Flight seeks to provide students with an introduction to the wide range of careers available in aeronautics, including business aviation. The program primarily reaches middle and high school students by providing guest speakers and exposing students to hands-on experience through simulators and unmanned aircraft systems, as well as actual flight time. In the Orlando area alone, more than 360 kids have experienced hands-on flight time through Vision of Flight sponsored “Fly Days.”

“Although our ‘Fly Days’ and other events are highly successful and attract a lot of children, we started to wonder what happens after the ‘Fly Day’,” said McKenzie. “Some kids are ready to start flying, but don’t have the resources to take flight lessons.”

Soon, Vision of Flight will be acquiring two aircraft. One will be used for flight instruction and discovery flights in Central Florida. The other will be used to expand the organization’s outreach in the Southeast U.S., bringing exposure to STEM education and aviation to more students. Students will compete academically to earn flight hours towards achieving a private pilot certificate through the program.

“We want to bring kids into the aviation environment and get them excited about the possibilities in aviation,” said McKenzie. “To do that, we secure partnerships with organizations that enable us to enhance the experiences of our program our participants.

“As an industry, we need to reach the kids at a much earlier age, and also look beyond the types of schools and districts that would normally excel in the academic areas around STEM learning,” he added. “There are kids in certain demographics that would strongly embrace the aviation culture, but due to lack of awareness through limited programs and resources, simply get passed over.”

Learn more about Vision of Flight.