Sir John Thomson Spirit of Aviation

What is The Spirit of Aviation?

Modelled on a scheme originating in Norway, ‘Spirit of Aviation’ uses flying to help disadvantaged youngsters to find a focus and change their lives through exposure to aspects of aviation. Twelve ‘Year 9’ (14 year-old) students are selected from schools in Bristol, and over the academic year they have taken part in three full-day training sessions. The first two days concentrate entirely on building and flying a variety of model aircraft, exposing the candidates to the theory of flight and enabling them to get hands-on flying experience. These sessions are run by volunteers from the British Model Flying Association (BMFA), and are headed by John Stennard, BMFA Education officer for the South West of England. We are extremely grateful to the members of BMFA for giving of their time and expertise.

How do students progress thereafter?

The second year offers the same candidates four visits to the Bristol & Gloucestershire Gliding Club where they undertake gliding lessons. The plan is also to introduce them first to a glider simulator. In their third year, the candidates learn to fly in a microlight aircraft.

How are candidates selected?

The candidates are selected by their schools from various backgrounds. There is no gender or ethnic differentiation. Generally, the candidates have faced significant challenges at school or at home. ‘Spirit of Aviation’ offers them a chance to experience something they would never imagine they could access. The aim is not to produce pilots but to introduce people to the world of aviation and science and help young people with difficult issues to overcome their problems, and thus grow in confidence and self-esteem.