Friday, January 27, 2023
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Paying It Forward – Hangar Flying

STEM Flights announced in April their proud support of a new pilot
mentor, Nathan Welch, EAA 1044612, who will be joining them at their
headquarters in Virginia. STEM Flights is a nonprofit organization that offers
no-cost STEM and flight experiences to youth.

Nathan’s introduction to aviation was through EAA’s Young Eagles program. As a fifth-grader, Nathan participated in the D.A.R.E. program at school, a drug awareness program in coordination with the local sheriff’s station and school system that teaches youth about the dangers of drug use. As a reward to students who participated in the program, Nathan’s local EAA chapter teamed up to provide the students with a Young Eagles flight.

“I was overjoyed with the experience,”
Nathan said. “From there on, I started flying with my neighbor, who’s also a
Young Eagles pilot, and flew a whole bunch with him. From there I just kept
going and going.”

While attending the University of Virginia, Nathan studied biology
with intentions of going on to medical school. However, Nathan’s love for
aviation grew stronger and led him to change career paths.

“I started flying at the flight school where I went to school at, and I was like, ‘I really want to do this instead.’” Nathan said. “So that’s where it all started at and then just kept growing and growing until I finally started teaching people.”

After earning his private pilot certificate, Nathan went on to obtain his instrument rating and then commercial, all while working towards a degree in biology, which he eventually earned.

Nathan landed a few jobs within the aviation industry. He worked
as a certified flight instructor in his hometown of Winchester, Virginia, and
was later hired by a charter company on the East Coast to fly private clients
around the nation.

Nathan kept thinking about his first flight through EAA, and
realized that what he really wanted to be doing was mentoring youth.

“I just remember the feeling I had when
I went for my first flight, and I think it’s cool to be able to make that
impact on younger students and in children, because I never forgot leaving the
ground for the first time, I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” Nathan

When Nathan was reading
through General Aviation News, he saw
an article about STEM Flights, and their goal to inspire
kids to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math careers using a small
airplane as a flying laboratory. Nathan knew he had to reach out and apply; and
it was a good thing he did, as Nathan proved to be a perfect fit at the

“He’s an ideal volunteer
pilot that connects easily with the kids and helps us turn their interest into
a passion,” said STEM Flights director of development Carley Walker. “Nathan
knows the impact a single positive experience can make on a life choice.”

Nathan said it’s really
cool to see the smile on kids’ faces when he’s flying them.

“When you
actually let them take control of the airplane and they feel how it feels to
actually fly the aircraft; just the smiles on their faces is amazing,” Nathan
said. “I’m just excited to be a part of making an impact on the younger
children in the aviation industry. It’s a great program that the STEM offers
the children. I think it’s a great second step to the Young Eagles flight.”

Congratulations, Nathan! We are excited for you to embark on this
new chapter of your life.

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