CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An aviation camp designed to take kids to a whole new level could be grounded because of a lack of participation.
Brenda Robinson is the first Black female Navy pilot. She created Aviation Camps of the Carolinas for teenagers. Robinson knows what airplanes did for her. Now she wants that same experience to happen for teens.
"I want kids to see the excitement that I saw in all the aviation careers," Robinson said.
Robinson has conducted four camps. She has a fifth one scheduled for next week at the Rock Hill-York County Airport. But, she says, if not enough participation, she will have to cancel it, and she doesn't want to do that.
She knows the importance of the camp and what it can do for teenagers.
"I want them to have an 'aha moment,'" she said. "Like 'I didn't know that this was out here, maybe there is something else out here I didn't know was available to me that I could be doing.'"
The camp will consist of teenagers between 14 and 17 years old. They will see the inside of a Medevac helicopter, possibly take a ride in an airplane, talk to pilots and see what the field of aviation has to offer.
"I want students that are halfway interested," Robinson said, "Maybe not interested. They need to be stung by something that says, Wow, I did not know that this kind of stuff went on."
The pilot said that not all the former campers leave wanting to fly, but they leave knowing the sky is the limit for what they can achieve in life.
"I wasn't a brilliant student," Robinson said. "I was a good student, and I want to make sure that all others understand that you have to focus. If I can do this, you obviously can absolutely do this."
Noah Samuels attended the aviation camp earlier this year.
"I would recommend it to others," Samuels said. "It was a very fun experience."
The West Mecklenburg High School student told WBTV that he is not interested in flying, but that the program taught him a valuable lesson.
"Nothing will really be given to you," the former camper said. "It takes hard work, dedication. You have to be willing to do the job you want to do."
Programs and camps like this are being developed to help fill a potential void. In about seven years there could be a pilot shortage of about 21,000.
"As a consumer," Robinson said, "Nothing good can come of that. Between higher prices, less flights to choose from and those things."
Robinson hopes her aviation camp will help set the teenagers up for their future and expose them to careers that can be rewarding.
"We have all of these awesome companies here in the Charlotte Region looking for employees," Robinson said. "And we have the students right here that can be training in all types of areas."
The Aviation Camp of the Carolinas costs $75, but there is a scholarship available. Space is limited. If you are interested, you can call 704-391-8625 or log on to successfulattitude.com.