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Wright Flight program takes youths to new heights

1st Lt. John Tice (right) answers questions about the A-10 Thunderbolt II from students from the Genesis School in Kansas City, Mo. Students from four area schools toured the A-10 and its facilities as a reward for successful completion of the wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program. Lieutenant Tice is a pilot with the 442nd Fighter Wing's 303rd Fighter Squadron. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Christina Suratos)

1st Lt. John Tice (right) answers questions about the A-10 Thunderbolt II from students from the Genesis School in Kansas City, Mo. Students from four area schools toured the A-10 and its facilities as a reward for successful completion of the wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program. Lieutenant Tice is a pilot with the 442nd Fighter Wing's 303rd Fighter Squadron. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Christina Suratos)

As a reward for successful completion of the 442nd Fighter Wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program, Rory McGraw, a sixth-grade student at Hardin Central School in Hardin, Mo., climbs into an airplane for his flight over central Missouri at the culmination of this year's Wright Flight program. Area private pilots provided the flights to the students for free during the Wright Flight fly day April 21 at the airport in Carrollton, Mo. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

As a reward for successful completion of the 442nd Fighter Wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program, Rory McGraw, a sixth-grade student at Hardin Central School in Hardin, Mo., climbs into an airplane for his flight over central Missouri at the culmination of this year's Wright Flight program. Area private pilots provided the flights to the students for free during the Wright Flight fly day April 21 at the airport in Carrollton, Mo. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

As a reward for successful completion of the 442nd Fighter Wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program, some students took to the sky for a free flight over central Missouri in aircraft provided by area private pilots who converged on the Carrollton, Mo., airport for the Wright Flight fly day April 21. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

As a reward for successful completion of the 442nd Fighter Wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program, some students took to the sky for a free flight over central Missouri in aircraft provided by area private pilots who converged on the Carrollton, Mo., airport for the Wright Flight fly day April 21. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

Master Sgt. Claudia Spooner (right) instructs students during the wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program at Hardin Central school in Hardin, Mo. Sergeant Spooner is a volunteer teacher from the 442nd Fighter Wing's, 442nd Mission Support Flight. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

Master Sgt. Claudia Spooner (right) instructs students during the wing-sponsored Wright Flight mentoring program at Hardin Central school in Hardin, Mo. Sergeant Spooner is a volunteer teacher from the 442nd Fighter Wing's, 442nd Mission Support Flight. The 442nd FW is an Air Force Reserve Command A-10 Thunderbolt II fighter unit based at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bill Huntington)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFPN) -- Members of the 442nd Fighter Wing's Human Resources Development Council here are helping to motivate young people to do better in school with the Wright Flight program.

Wright Flight is an aviation-themed youth mentoring program that uses manned flight's notable pioneers, such as Orville and Wilbur Wright, as role models for students to establish and reach goals.

Wright Flight originated with Air Force Reserve pilot Robin Stoddard who noticed the effect aircraft had on young people. He decided to use that as a positive influence on them to help encourage them to do better in school.

Starting in 1987 in Tucson, Ariz., Mr. Stoddard developed the program and organized volunteers to teach it.

He also got pilots to provide a flight in private aircraft to students as a reward for successfully completing the course.

Wright Flight's mission from the outset was to use the inherent motivational power of aviation as a stimulus for students to set and achieve higher goals in their educational and personal development. The program teaches students, grades 4-12, that through commitment and hard work they can achieve the highest goals, including the opportunity to pilot an aircraft.

The program grew. It now has chapters in North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Kansas, Florida and Massachusetts as well the 442nd's at Whiteman AFB.

The 442nd Wright Flight volunteers teach classes in inner-city and rural schools and, through donations, provide class materials. 

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