OBAP’s ACE academy visits the 15th Wing

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Makensie Cooper
  • 15th Wing Public Affairs
Members from the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals attended the first Honolulu Aerospace Career Education Academy and toured 15th Wing to learn about the mission and the role we play in aviation in the Indo-Pacific.

The ACE Academy is a collaboration between the Federal Aviation Administration and OBAP. The goal of the academy is to introduce children, ages 13-18, to opportunities that exist in the aerospace industry.

“It’s important for these kids to see what might be available, we show them what opportunities are available in the civilian side and the military side,” said Thomas Witts, local OBAP academy director. “This group, a total of 16 kids, are particularly interested in becoming fighter pilots, and today they had an opportunity to tour the F-22 Raptor squadron, see different aircraft and see all the different aerospace components.”

Founded in 1976, OBAP members encourage diversity in the aerospace industry by supporting and encouraging aspiring aviation professionals through mentoring, training, scholarships and youth-focused education programs.

“This is an amazing opportunity, this program and other programs that the Air Force has, I'm so happy to be a part of it and share my experiences,” said Major Matthew “Weave” Roland, Air Force Recruiting Service Det 1, Assistant director of operations. “A lot of times it just takes one defining moment in a kid's life that they can see something they can strive for, so bringing them out to a base like this, getting to see multiple aviators, and aviation opportunities could be the spark that some of these kids strive to become.”

OBAP is a leading force in showcasing aviation to all interested youth. This week-long camp exposes highschool kids to different aspects and opportunities within aviation by touring and networking within the civilian sector and multiple flying units and support agencies within the 15th Wing.

Since the first ACE Academy, introduced in 1992, over 30,000 youth have been inspired by countless avionics leaders.

“I think that this was an invaluable and a priceless experience for these kids because they have had a chance to see and interact with somebody and touch the gear that we work with on a day to day basis which has a lasting impression,” said Lt. Col. Paul “Loco” Lopez, 19th Fighter Squadron commander. “I really think it made a difference in those kids' lives, and I really look forward to seeing a lot of those young men and women come back and serve in the civil sector or in the military as leaders in the aviation community.”