Wright Flight, Inc. is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1986 in Tucson, Arizona by Robin Stoddard.
At the time, Robin was a young captain in the Air Force recently stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base where he was an A-10 pilot. Like all kids he grew up fascinated with flight. His choice in career reflected that fascination – not to mention the fact that both his parents were pilots, his mother was a private pilot in Kansas and his father flew F-86s during the Korean War. Flying was in his DNA.
Robin was also concerned with education. Between graduating from college and leaving for Officer Training School, he wrote educational screenplays while living in San Diego, California. He showed talent, winning a medal at the Houston International Film Festival.
Robin noted that all youngsters shared the same fascination with flight that he always had. He decided to use that interest to motivate kids to do better in school. Working almost single-handedly at first, he developed the program materials and organized a group of volunteers and pilots to teach the program and ultimately to fly the graduating students.
He named the program “Wright Flight” in honor of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the two brothers who made and flew the first airplane in 1903.
Since its humble beginnings, the program has grown significantly in both scope and size, with over 750 successful students graduating in the Tucson area during this school year and approximately 10,500 since its inception. New chapters are springing up across the country in addition to the Tucson headquarters and the Phoenix branch. North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts and Florida have proven successful with their chapters.
Robin Stoddard is still the Executive Director of Wright Flight. He retired as a Lt. Colonel from the USAF Reserves.
Wright Flight is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to “helping kids reach new heights” in both their classrooms and their lives. Wright Flight is a motivational program that teaches today’s youth how to set goals and achieve them. Since its inception, over 10,000 students have graduated from the program. What motivated them? The chance to fly.
The purpose of Wright Flight is to teach the youth of America how to set goals and achieve them. It teaches that with hard-work, diligence, and concentration no goal is out of reach, not even becoming a pilot. Passing the program is not easy, each student must achieve an academic goal while simultaneously completing the Wright Flight curriculum. Only students who work hard enough can succeed and only they earn the right to fly.
The program culminates with a “flight experience” depending on which Wright Flight program the student is participating. At the Graduation Flydays, each student gets the chance to fly an airplane. They do not just get a ride, they will take the controls as they soar through the sky.
For more information about the Wright Flight program or to donate visit the Wright Flight Website
5 Star Termite and Pest Control is a strong financial provider because Shelby Hawkins believes in making education fun and interesting for the youth and allowing children to achieve goals through aviation. Shelby currently is a licensed pilot and is preparing to be a certified Wright Flight pilot for this upcoming school year.
Below is a testimonial about Wright Flight
Hello Robin and Wright Flight,
Thank you so much for the wonderful opportunities that you provide to children. Here’s a story of one of my students named Noah:
Noah is a fifth grade boy who has had a very difficult year. Although he is highly gifted, his attention deficit issues constantly interfere with him feeling successful at school. During the month of December not only did his family dog pass away, but he learned that his dad was at the beginning of a battle with cancer. Noah is extremely interested in science & nature, so learning about the history of aviation through the Wright Flight program was a great fit & a timely distraction from what was happening at home. He was very excited when he got a 100% on the final test and eagerly memorized his Bold Face statements. I was very surprised that during school on his Fly Day he began creating excuses for why he probably wasn’t going to fly that afternoon. He said that his family couldn’t afford it. I reminded him of the suggested $19.03 donation. He seemed very out of sorts. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw him with his parents at the terminal, but his face was extremely pale. He told me that he thought he didn’t really want to fly after all. I looked at his parents for a reaction and they both reassured him & encouraged him to go through with it. I could tell that he was anxious, but I told him that I, myself, was very excited that I had an opportunity to fly the previous week. I told him it was the most amazing thing I had done in a very long time. Although he was extremely reluctant, he decided to fly. I was very nervous for him and hoped that it ended up being a good experience for him.
I was so excited to see him walk back into the terminal after his flight. He was walking on air with the biggest grin I had ever seen on him. He was talking a mile a minute about how amazing his flight was! After the final paperwork was completed and pictures taken, Noah’s parents were ready to leave, but Noah couldn’t find his pilot to say good-bye to. He had stepped outside, but we were told he would be back in about 20 minutes. Noah refused to leave without thanking him again & so he convinced his parents to stay. When his pilot returned Noah very eloquently thanked him for giving him this opportunity and chatted with him again like they were old friends. He told his pilot how glad he was that he flew with him and that he would remember this day for the rest of his life. Listening to his conversation caused me to get choked up. You will never know what an amazing impression this will leave on Noah. He will never again have the opportunity to fly a plane for the first time! A week later, in class, he was still excited about his Wright Flight Fly Day.
Thank you! And see you soon at another Fly Day!
Quail Run (Elementary School)
Another story from one of our students:
On the morning of my flight, my classmates and I stood together, as we waited to be assigned to our pilot for the day. I was nervous, excited, and having last-minute regrets about participating. Although we had studied for many hours for this moment, we were not prepared for the incredible experience we were about to have.
Our Wright Flight training began in the classroom. I remember being issued a blue binder with the program logo on the front, and over the course of a few months, studied every page inside. It detailed the history of flight, and the Wright Brothers’ incredible contributions to the science we use today. We also learned the practical applications of flight, including lift and drag, and how we could take that knowledge and use it in a real airplane!
After learning all of the lesson plans and passing the final test, it was time to fly. I was partnered-up with another girl named Sarah, and we were assigned to a pilot who jokingly said that he was just released from jail for “flying upside down”! I was terrified, but seeing Sarah so excited made me want to be excited too.
I was chosen to fly first, and I tried to hide my anxieties as I buckled my seatbelt. Our pilot was patient and encouraging, as we fumbled through the basic instruction and putting on our uncomfortable headsets. He steered the plane towards the runway, and it was too late to turn back now! The plane began to gain speed, and with patient coaching, I had both of my small hands on the yoke and helped to guide our plane into the sky. We were really flying!
We flew to a nearby small airport called Ryan Airfield, and I got the chance to help land the plane as well! Once on the ground, I switched seats with Sarah, and she got the chance to fly the plane this time.
Although I was extremely hesitant about flying, I am so glad that I didn’t let my fears stop me. The experience with our pilot and the feeling of flight actually made me consider a career as a commercial pilot for a short time. I felt incredibly grateful for the opportunity, and very proud to have accomplished our classroom goals along the way to achieve this experience. I would have never thought that I would ever ride in a small plane, much less fly one!
I’m thankful to our school, my teacher, and of course, our brave and patient pilot. I hope that this program will be around for a long time, and hope that it will give kids the once-in-a-lifetime experience that I had!
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