I’m writing to you today from Bali, Indonesia. Before we take off for Australia, the halfway point of our journey, I wanted to share my deep feelings about why the Flying Classroom team and I are so passionate about STEM+ education.

When I was 15, I never envisioned aviation as a career option. I was a football star. I remember telling my mentor, Captain Gary Robinson, that although aviation was appealing, I didn't think I was smart enough to fly a plane.

What changed my mind? What made me turn down football for a STEM+ career? There were many factors, but the most influential was having someone show me what is possible. Captain Robinson and Fabio Alexander, a Miami businessman involved in aviation, took an interest in me and my future and sold me on a finish line first. In other words, they showed me what my life could be in aviation. I believe many students find STEM+ subjects to be interesting when they’re children, but as they get older, they lose interest because they can’t see or imagine the real world possibilities that STEM+ offers.

Last week, while the Flying Classroom team was studying animals in Singapore, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries gave me the opportunity to inspire students at their state-of-the-art museum in Yokohama, Japan. Like many students I speak with around the world, students in Japan wanted to know:

- How does it feel to fly?
- What is it like to travel over 500 mph?
- How hard is the math you use when you fly?
- What are you able to do with the money you make in your life?
- How can you fly so high?

These are questions from students who have begun envisioning a STEM+ career in their lives. This is what selling the finish line is all about.

When we landed in Singapore, we conducted a presentation with Universal Weather & Aviation and I asked students, “Who has the coolest job in the world?” I wanted them to say scientists and engineers. Instead, a young man said “You.”

For that young man to think I have the coolest job in the world shocked me. Students really do observe everything you do. More importantly, when they’re motivated, they have the ability to dream and envision their futures.

I think many adults miss the opportunity to sell the finish line to the young people in their lives. Students don't want to hear how hard they have to work to achieve their goals. They don’t want to hear about challenges along the way. In my travels, I continue to meet students who don't want to hear about the route they should take. They want to see the destination.

We created the Flying Classroom to help them get there.

Photo: Barrington Irving
Inspiring students to soar as they build an airplane for the first time! (Photo by Barrington Irving)
Photo: Barrington Irving
Special Thanks to Mr. Junji Suzuki, Mr. Hirotaka Okawa, Mr. Shinichiro Uryu, and Mr. Takahiro Kiya, for hosting the many students and sharing the true way of enjoying the amazing healthy foods of Japan! (Photo by Barrington Irving)

I'd like to thank our title sponsors, Executive Aircraft Services and Universal Weather & Aviation, as well as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and our other partners, for helping us reignite the imagination of students and to demonstrate what’s possible.

NEXT STOP: Darwin, Australia