STEM Flights - An Evolving Vision
STEM Flights was a concept that had been percolating in the mind of its founder, retired Brigadier General Dave Brubaker (Gen Bru) for many years. It began soon after a 34-year career in the United States Air Force & Air National Guard – most of it flying fighter jet aircraft (F-100, F-4 and the F-16). As he transitioned back to civilian life in 2005, he continued his passion for flying and purchased a Cessna 172 for personal use. Over the ensuing years he made it a point to share his love of flying by giving countless rides to family, friends, friends of friends, and even strangers who just showed an interest or desire to fly. He participated in numerous events that promoted aviation, visited school classrooms to talk to kids, joined pilot & flying associations, trained for additional ratings (like helicopter & seaplane pilot), and generally embraced his new General Aviation flying family.
At the same time, his second work career as a Consultant to the Defense Industry kept him involved with the Air Force at a Senior Leadership level (Top Secret security clearance); where he witnessed the growing difficulty faced with recruiting new pilots and other technical skills needed to keep the US competitive in an ever increasingly contentious world. He watched as many of our critical technical skills were out-sourced – sometimes to countries that are not all that friendly to the US. Encouraging young people to pursue STEM careers soon became his second passion.
Gen Bru’s favorite kind of flying is taking up kids & young adults who have never experienced small aircraft flying. He would actively involve them in the flying, navigating, and the science of each flight. He loved seeing the look of wonder and excitement in their faces – and the immense pride when they took the controls and got the feel of being a pilot. The Cessna was eventually replaced with an amphibian Searey (lands on the water & land) and the flying and STEM enthusiasm only increased. The more the interaction & encouragement inside the aircraft, the more interest in science and a sense of self-confidence he was able to instill in his passengers. Imagine a kid who was never encouraged (or worse), piloting an aircraft for the first time; or directing a science mission from the cockpit – powerful motivational medicine. His son, Trent, also participated, often giving flights to long lines of eagerly awaiting guests at a Summer Party. Even son-in-law Mark was motivated to pursue a pilot’s license.
Formalizing a flying program to inspire others (STEM Flights) firmly took hold when Gen Bru heard from a good friend that his daughter was taking flying lessons – in part due to her past flying experiences with him (she will soon attend USAF Pilot Training to fly C-130s). He heard similar stories from others – some about technical pursuits and some about flying lessons. To Gen Bru, it was done - many individual experiences help shape career choices and STEM Flights will play a part in that shaping.
We were taught to be passionate about life, to be grateful for all the blessings of being an American, and to give back. STEM Flights is our Family effort to do all this and more. And a fine legacy for Dad.
Director of Marketing & Daughter of Gen Bru