Wright Flight offers the right stuff

Published 11:44 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wright Flight offers more than just an opportunity for area fifth-grade students to go flying, many of them for the first time. It offers an opportunity for those fifth-graders to improve their academic prowess and behavior.

By signing a contract, working hard and fulfilling that contract, a fifth-grade student is rewarded by taking a flight of about 20 minutes in small, private planes. Wright Flight teaches youngsters that hard work and keeping a promise can result in rewarding experiences.

The fifth-graders learn that lesson by studying aviation pioneers such as Orville and Wilbur Wright, who set objectives, worked hard to meet those objectives and overcame obstacles to write their names in the history books.
The focus of the Wright Flight program is the contract a student signs. As part of the contract, the student sets a goal and lists what must be done to achieve that goal, which should be challenging. The program’s preferred goal is to raise a grade in school, say from a B to an A in history or a C to a B in mathematics. Parents are encouraged to assist their children in reaching their goals.
Part of the Wright Flight program calls for students to abstain from using tobacco, drugs and alcohol. The program also provides students a second chance if they don’t meet their goals the first time around. That second chance comes during the next grading period.
Numerous Wright Flight participants are minority or disadvantaged children who probably never would have opportunities to fly in an airplane without Wright Flight. The program shows them there are many doors that will open for them, if they work hard and set their minds to achieving the goals they set for themselves.
Young students are an integral part of Wright Flight, but so are the program’s coordinators and volunteer pilots. Without them, those smiles seen on students’ faces after they’ve been flying would not be there. Their contributions to the program cannot be overlooked.

Among them are pilots like Tom Saccio and Wayne Woolard. It was Saccio and his wife, Sandy (now deceased), who convinced the Beaufort County Board of Education about six years ago that Wright Flight would be a valuable addition to the Beaufort County Schools’ curriculum. They’ve been proven right in their assertion.

It’s heartwarming to see about 40 to 60 fifth-graders at the airport, waiting for their turns for an airborne adventure. Many parents, some going flying for the first time, accompany their children on the aerial excursions.

The following excerpt from a Washington Daily News article about last year’s Wright Flight tells the story.

“It was awesome! We flew over John Small and my mom’s house. We got to see a lot of stuff,” said Chase Ambrose. Chase’s guests for the flight were his younger brother, Levi, and his father. Chase, who’d never flown before, said he was initially apprehensive but “after a little while, I thought ‘Wow, this is really cool.’”

“It’s very educational and enlightening,” said Jeremy Ambrose, Chase’s dad. “They get a different perspective on the world. This could be a career for them, if they like it enough.”

Locally, Wright Flight takes place at the city-owned airport, Warren Field. The next Wright Flight is set for the morning of April 20.

It’s been encouraging to see Wright Flight take off and fly right. Happy landings.