History of Giving Kids Wings Flight Academy

"When are we ever going to use this?"

"How does this apply to real life?"

"Why does school have to be so boring?"

Familiar questions that probably all students, past and present, have thought or asked at some point in their academic careers.  As a student, Dan Mikkelsen, founder and CEO of GKWFA was no different.  However, the answer to these questions came for him during his softmore year of high school when he had the unique opportunity to take an experiemental aviation course at Naperville North High School, a large suburban school located about 30 miles west of Chicago.  The course was a complete private pilot ground school, taught by a veteran flight instructor with over 2000 hours of flight experience.  "It really made me see how exciting and empowering math and science concepts could be when taught in an engaging  and relavent context.  I looked forward to going to the class every day." Mikkelsen said.  This was the seed that eventually gave birth to Giving Kids Wings Flight Academy nearly 18 years later. 

In August of 2005, Mr. Mikkelsen made the 2000 mile move to California to teach in the urban charter schools of South Los Angeles.  In his first year of teaching, he led about 20 students on a field trip to Compton Airport to experience the annual aviation fair held there in January.  He was deeply moved by the expression on the faces of two of his students, Evelin and Marla, when they experienced flight in an aircraft for the very first time.  (See Evelin and Marla fly!  www.youtube.com/watch?v=MnZgo32Y8qo, www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-TKzlqly8o

Since that time he has led between one and two dozen aviation trips to Compton, Torrance, Hawthorne, and Los Angeles airports, where students have had the chance to experience piloting themselves and have been able to explore other related careers in aviation. 

In January of 2009, with the invaluable help of of Sheryl Turner, Giving Kids Wings Flight Academy (GKWFA) was founded with the mission of increasing the representation of minority pilots in the airlines and in other aviation related careers.  Student cadets in this program experience basic and advanced, ground and flight training via PC based flight simulators.  Cadets showing a career interest in piloting and the corresponding determination become eligible for actual career flight training and scholarships to give them a head start in pursuing their dreams of flight. 

Please explore the provided links to learn more about GKWFA's unique flight program!


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