Taylor Avery, a senior at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy (CFAA) in Lakeland, FL is about to be rewarded for hard work and high standards in his academic career. His work ethic combined with determination and quality in his decision making and respect for others has earned him an experience every student pilot dreams of – an orientation flight in WWII’s most well-known and prolific fighter, a P-51 Mustang.
Taylor was stunned by the opportunity. “Are you kidding? This is amazing! I can’t believe this is happening! I’m really just speechless,” was his response.
Avery is an Air Force ROTC Cadet and plans to enter Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University after graduation. He has been awarded a SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) flight training scholarship and has earned his private pilot’s license. Taylor is also a member of the STRATOS squadron, a group of students from Polk County who have written essays in an annual contest as high school juniors to be selected as ACE Ambassadors during the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo.
Lee Lauderback, President and CEO of Stallion 51 Corporation located at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport, will be conducting the flight himself. Stallion 51’s innovative and comprehensive curriculums have instructed thousands of pilots on the correct and safe methods of flying both the legendary P-51 Mustang and the historic T-6 Texan for over 29 years.
“The ACE program at SUN ‘n FUN is an important launch pad for engaging young men and women who are interested in an aviation career, and Stallion 51 wants to help promote their efforts,” said Lauderback. “We are very pleased to reward Taylor with this recognition of his achievement, and I hope this inspires others to look at his success and realize that with hard work they can also reach their goals.”
John “Lites” Leenhouts, President/CEO of SUN ‘n FUN, is very proud of Taylor and the opportunities ACE provides to students. “Taylor is a perfect example of the type of student we are working to help develop here at ACE,” he said. “He will have a great flight experience, but nothing like the exciting experience that a career in aviation is going to bring him. He’s done an excellent job, and we’re glad to have partners like Stallion 51 who understand what we are trying to accomplish here at SUN ‘n FUN.”
SUN ‘n FUN’s Aerospace Center for Excellence is located at the same facility known worldwide for its annual Fly-In. Now in its 42nd year, this annual event is the major fundraiser for ACE, and is being held this year April 5-10 at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, FL. ACE is comprised of 14 buildings, including Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum, CFAA, and most notably, the Piedmont Aerospace Experience, a fully functional Boeing 727 that has been converted to a high tech learning environment in which students can actually start the engines and operate the systems while their classmates watch the activity in every system on closed-circuit video from their classroom seats in the fuselage. At the rear of the aircraft is also a conference center, making it a unique and fascinating element in this extraordinary facility for STEM learning. With a growing footprint and world-class programs, ACE has become a nationally recognized leading producer of teenage pilots, maintainers and aviation support personnel.
The flight will take place on April 5, 2016. It will depart from Stallion 51 in Kissimmee and arrive at SUN ‘n FUN at approximately 9AM on the Warbird Ramp. The press and media are invited to meet Taylor immediately following the flight at Stallion 51’s exhibit close to the arrival area.
Stallion 51 will be announcing more exciting news at the same location on the Warbird Ramp on Wednesday evening at 7PM. “We don’t want to give it away just yet,” said Lauderback, “but SUN ‘n FUN, Stallion 51, and Experience Kissimmee have teamed up to bring a special opportunity to the SUN ‘n FUN attendees. You won’t want to miss this!”