July 18, 2018

As the 2018 Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy season comes to a close, the group is optimistic that its program will lead to diversity in the aviation industry, including business aviation.

OBAP members support aspiring aviation professionals through mentoring, scholarships, training and youth-focused education programs through Project Aerospace.

“A lot of kids see planes and want to do it, but don’t know how to enter,” said Capt. Geoff Berry, director of the OBAP Las Vegas ACE Academy and national co-director of all OBAP ACE programs. The ACE Academies are focused on middle and high school students ages 14-18, and target “minority kids who are really underrepresented in the aviation industry.”

Since 1992, OBAP’s immersive ACE Academies have been designed to expose students to the history of aviation, fundamentals of aerodynamics, air traffic control procedures, aerospace technologies and introductions to aviation careers. This year, there were ACE Academies in 30 locations, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the program engages more than 1,000 students each year.

Many past OBAP ACE Academy participants have gone on to have successful careers in aviation as pilots, aircraft mechanics, air traffic controllers and more. These weeklong experiences serve as an opportunity to learn about the industry as a whole, giving students exposure to new career possibilities.

“There is no doubt in my mind that OBAP has aided me on my journey within the aviation industry, on my way to becoming a pilot,” said Vernecelyn Allen, a past Memphis OBAP ACE Academy participant and rising sophomore at Southern Illinois University. “Not only did I gain a myriad of information about the industry from this experience, but I was also invigorated with a new excitement for my future career.”

OBAP’s ACE Academies continue to expand, offering programs in more states each year, as well as internationally. The academies are made available for low-to-no-cost, thanks to sponsorships and corporate partnerships.

Learn more about OBAP.