Aim high and learn to fly. For the past few years Roger Medlin, operations manager for the Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro and Vondeste Fishburne, a member of the board of advisors for the airport and a member of the Tuskegee Airmen Hiram E. Mann Chapter of Colleton County have encouraged aspiring aviators to participate in a program that offers students ages 10-17 the opportunity to explore the world of aviation.
The two men are members of a group at Walterboro’s Lowcountry Regional Airport that encourages youths through the Fellowship Of Young Aviators (FOYA) program to experience the freedom of flight many people dream about. Its purpose is to help young people realize experiences and careers in aviation by providing resources, information and guidance.
Each month the group introduces students to pilots, briefs them on the program, then supervises a pre-flight check of the plane they will be flying in before taking them up on a 15-minute flight performing normal climbs, turns and decent. Afterwards, the students are debriefed and given time for questions and answers.
Medlin said the month-old local program began as part of the national Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program conducted at the airport for the past several years. Each month 18-20 students participate in the flight activity. A few stay active as they pursue interests in aviation, he said.
Last year the group decided to undertake its own initiative. Fishburne acts as the group’s public relations co-ordinator. He’s been recruiting students from area schools in Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties to participate monthly. Most recently a group of JROTC students from R.B. Stall High School participated in flights at the airport.
Medlin said the newly formed organization is trying to pull together resources, so they need financial and other donations. The group already is partnered with Boeing and the University of South Carolina’s Salkehatchie campus in Walterboro. They hope to offer flight school scholarships to some students.
For information about FOYA call (843) 793-7775, (843) 549-2549 or go online to www.lowcountryregionalairport.com or on Facebook at Fellowship of Young Aviators.