On a mission, Col. Jack Howell has been pounding the pavement for over a decade getting the message out about the flight school that helps youth achieve the goal of earning a private pilot’s license.

Moving into their new location on the flight line this summer, the facility offers expanded training rooms, direct access to the organization’s three aircraft and a reception area allowing them to speak with prospective students.

Photo: Flagler News Weekly

Howell, joined by executive director Ric Lehman and members of the organization’s board of directors, cut the ribbon on Saturday to officially welcome the public to the new location.

Among those in attendance including Gary Hollis representing U.S. Senator Rick Scott’s office, was Linda Keith, representing The Heiser Foundation, one of the Teens-In-Flight’s largest supporters. Providing a $50,000 donation check, Keith said that Teens-In-Flight’s mission is in line with the foundation’s supporting military families during challenging times.

“We are a large supporter of Teens-In-Flight as we share a lot of the same philosophies,” said Keith. “Fran and Gary Heiser, in honor of their son Michael, when they met Col. Howell, they just immediately clicked. When he started Teens-In-Flight they were involved with him. After they passed, we’ve carried on the legacy.”

Former Flagler County Commissioner George Hanns, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Kate Barnett and Teens-In-Flight founder Col. Jack Howell. Photo: Flagler News Weekly

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Director of Education for Gaetz Aerospace Institute Kate Barnett and Dave Moorefield, Director of Flight Operations see the youth oriented flight school as a compliment to the dual enrollment opportunities offered between Flagler Schools and the university, providing a pathway to a variety of STEM-related aviation career fields.

“I think we’re at a sweet spot. Because with career and technical education through the Perkins grant, districts are having to do a labor market alignment making sure the programs they’re offering are in alignment with high-wage, high-demand jobs in Florida,” said Barnett.

“Aviation is huge. Florida is a leader in aviation and I think it’s a sweet spot in time for our programs to be lining up with high school programs and offering the dual enrollment and getting these kids on a high flying career essentially.”

Teaching kids ‘the art of the possible’, Barnett and Moorefield are engaging students to help broaden their horizons.

Photo: Flagler News Weekly

“We’re out in high schools administering all the flight programs, manned and unmanned flight programs, basically to get that interest in STEM,” he said. “It’s something a lot of kids don’t realize they can do it until somebody tells them they can.”

With the growing aerospace industry here on Florida’s Space Coast, supporting educational opportunities for the next generation of industry leaders and having solid relationships with key players, helps ensure a robust talent pipeline.

“Saturday we celebrated our grand opening of our new facilities at Flagler Executive Airport. We had a great crowd of more than 100 people including several of our foundations that support our programs,” shared executive director Ric Lehman.

“In 2022 we have celebrated more licenses than the past five years combined with no signs of slowing,” he said emphatically.

To find out more about Teens-In-Flight, visit www.teensinflight.com.

Teens In Flight Board of Directors. Photo: Marketing 2 Go