Youngsters’ Goals Take Flight with Historic Flying Lab

Captain Lee Giat was presented with gifts including the A History of The Bahamas THROUGH MAPS Upon arrival at Odyssey Aviation Nassau (Event Sponsor)

A regional flight campaign to get kids excited about science, aviation and aerospace was launched in New Providence this past weekend. Twenty-four year-old pilot Captain Lee Gait embarked upon a 16-day historic aerospace STEM flight expedition and his first stop was New Providence, Bahamas, on Sunday, December 4, 2022. This feat is being made possible thanks to PASSAGE, a non-profit organization based in the USA, which partnered with Akhepran International Academy and other strategic organisations to young Bahamians with exciting information and inspiration to reach for the stars. 

Captain Giat first took off from Fernandina Beach, Florida. He landed in New Providence at Odyssey Aviation Terminal at 3pm Sunday. Upon his arrival, a 30-minute welcome ceremony was held at New Providence Community Church on Blake Road, followed by a stargazing and educational session with students. Minister of Education Glenys Hanna Martin was on hand to encourage the youngsters and encourage them in the pursuit of their goals.  

With the Bahamas trip under his belt, Captain Gait will continue his conquest, flying solo to several other Caribbean and Latin American countries. He provided stargazing training and education essentials for aspiring young aviators and budding scientists when he landed in New Providence .  His Twin Engine Aircraft is a flying laboratory and library, known as the “Spirit of Science,” filled with gifts of school supplies, technology devices, books, telescopes, and lab equipment for teachers and students.

This pioneering project comes thanks to the non-governmental organization PASSAGE USA, which designed it to reach young people aspiring to have careers in these fields, but require more exposure. PASSAGE was able to bring the campaign to The Bahamas, thanks to Akhepran International Academy’s Aviation Department, in conjunction with the Royal Police Force Aviation Department, Civil Society Bahamas and other partners. The historic touchdown in New Providence signaled the official launch of Akhepran’s Aerospace, Aviation, STEM & Climate Change Awareness Campaign. Several activities have been planned to commemorate International Civil Aviation Day, which is held annually on December 7, as proclaimed in 1996 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Captain Gait’s flight arrival, stargazing training session, and highlight footage will be included in a “Wright of Passage” documentary series, showcasing many of the communities and countries the Spirit of Science aircraft will visit on the 16-day PASSAGE flight. The series will premiere at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on June 17th, 2023. 

The PASSAGE team is currently producing free online courses for students across the globe, with the goal of providing blueprints for pursuing common STEM careers. Courses on paleontology, astronomy, and environmental engineering will be offered.

This initiative is an immediate response by Akhepran students who attended the Conference of Parties COP27 and Conference of Youth COY17 Climate Change meetings in Egypt from October 31 to November 18, 2022. During the meetings, students were encouraged to become advocates for the environment, space, and the planet. They were also encouraged to participate in the promotion of public education and awareness programs. Additionally, the students were reminded of the Sustainable Development Global Goals Agenda 2030, and the importance of aviation, STEM, astrology, climate change, and the environment as critical themes of global connectivity, international flight, world peace, and prosperity.

Students who benefitted from the event included Berkley Rolle, a 12th grade student who left his family in Exuma and relocated to New Providence to attend Akhepran International Academy Aviation Program because his career path is to become a pilot. Jaden Mackey, president of the Akhepran Ambassadors Youth Climate Change Non Profit Organization, gave a speech on behalf of the students. He stated that “our planet has a fever and we will all become sick if young people do not speak out against pollution of our air, land and seas”. Akhepran Aviation student Nyahjah Albury was also among the eager learners learning from Captain Gates.

The Spirit of Science flying laboratory and library will also touch Jacmel, Haiti; Port au Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Mandeville, Jamaica; Barranquilla, Colombia; Duitama,Colombia; Lima, Peru; Jujuy, Argentia; and Santiago, Chile.

Source Felicity Darville

More photo highlights below:

Akhepran students enjoy viewing space and learning about celestial bodies as Akhepran Aviation student Nyahjah
Albury in white shirt looks on

Guest Speakers –
Captain Desiree Bodie Wcpl –RBPF First Woman Pilot
Captain Lee Giat – PASSAGE project Pilot
HOnourable Glenys Hanna Martin – Minister of Education, Technology and Vocational
Dr. Anthony Hamilton – President of Civil Society Bahamas and President of Air
Transporters Association

Captain Lee Giat encourages Hon. Minister Hanna Martin to take a look and explore the heavens.

Captain Lee demonstrates use if the telescope to Kevin Sterling

Captain Lee Giat demonstrates the use of the telescope to Akhepran Scholars.