APRIL 30, 2020 BY GENERAL AVIATION NEWS STAFF
WINCHESTER, Virginia — Former Young Eagle Nathan Welch is now a new pilot mentor for STEM Flights, a non-profit organization that provides aviation education and flight experiences to create positive experiences in general aviation, and inspire kids to pursue STEM careers.
Nathan, a CFI for AV-ED, had his first experience in an aircraft as a Young Eagle with the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) when he was in fifth grade.
He immediately knew he wanted to fly for a living. By the time he was a sophomore in college at the University of Virginia, he finished his private pilot’s certificate and was working at a local flight school in exchange for flight time.
After earning his instrument rating and then commercial, Nathan was hired as a Certified Flight Instructor in his hometown of Winchester, Virginia. With business aviation in his sights and his undergraduate degree done, Nathan impressed a pilot working for a charter company on the East Coast and landed a job flying private clients around the nation.
Nathan had a desire to use his successful flying career to give back to young adults. His experience with EAA’s Young Eagles program taught him that early exposure to aviation can have lasting effects. He saw an article in the local paper about STEM Flights, a non-profit organization that offers no-cost STEM and flight experiences to young people. The goal is to inspire kids to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers using a small airplane as a flying laboratory. Creating new pilots in the process is an important part of that goal, according to officials.
“STEM Flights is a natural follow up to Young Eagles,” Nathan explains. “More than a discovery flight, STEM Flights missions really take the student into the career possibilities that aviation and STEM offer. Mentoring youth has always been a career goal for me.”
According to STEM Flights Director of Development, Carley Walker, Nathan is “an ideal volunteer pilot who connects easily with the kids and helps us turn their interest into a passion. Nathan knows the impact a single positive experience can make on a life choice.”
Another unique feature of STEM Flights is its plan to track each student for long-term career choices. Over time, they will know exactly what impact their efforts had on each STEM Flights student, officials note.