December marks the first month that a first batch of students will make their way through National Aviation Hall of Fame inductee and aerobatic pilot Sean Tucker’s latest project, Every Kid Can Fly, for local at-risk children. The Salinas, Calif., program is associated with Hartnell College and the NASA laboratories based there. It aims to inspire children who have found their way to Rancho Cielo — an organization established by a local judge to provide troubled young people a place to regain their footing and learn a trade that could become a job. As for Tucker’s involvement, he and his son Eric will lead seven of the children through an aviation program. And “if they stay drug- and violence-free and if they keep up their grades, we will not fail them — period,” Tucker told TheCalifornian.com. Tucker says that means he will stay with them until they solo.
Through Tucker and his son, the students will first be tutored through 40 hours of ground school and 20 hours of stick time. Tucker is determined to provide the children with a variety of flying experiences, piloting several aircraft from a Piper Cub to an Extra. The program is sponsored in part by Gannett Newspapers, which will also report on the progress of the children through The Californian newspaper. In a video that documents the Every Kid Can Fly program, Tucker hopes the program “will be all about helping these kids define or possibly redefine themselves.” Tucker said he believes flying provides a unique learning experience and the feeling of achievement one gets from soloing an airplane is “amazing.” “I want them to experience that feeling,” he said. Watch the Every Kid Can Fly video, here.