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The STEM Flights Story

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.


Carley Walker

Director of Marketing & Daughter of Gen Bru

The STEM Flights Story

Core Values

What you see below are the guiding principles of our organization. We live these values everyday and they direct our team in every flight experience we provide. 

Core Ideology:

STEM Flights was founded by a US Military veteran and we are passionate about our Patriotism for this great Country. We believe in the inherent goodness of ALL Americans and place no group or individual above any other. Through selfless service to the community, we encourage, motivate, and inspire all kids to push beyond their limits - to achieve more than they believed possible. We use aviation and the universal language of science to cultivate the spirit of innovation in our youth and help develop STEM & aviation technologists of the future. 

Helping Others 

  • We always consider others when making decisions

  • We always provide service and assistance beyond what is expected

  • We believe that ‘giving back’ is a responsibility of all

  • Everyone deserves kindness and respect

  • We are inclusive and understanding of others


  • Honesty is our guiding principle - always

  • We pride ourselves on being honorable and transparent

  • We always take the high road - never deceitful or deflect blame

  • Deliver more than expected - and expect nothing in return

  • Always honor promises - be forthright when things change

We are Passionate about what we Do

  • We believe in the people we serve and the service we provide

  • We love to talk about our mission and how it changes lives

  • We are proud of our Team & our Volunteers. 

  • We celebrate success and work together to overcome challenges

Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Statement:

  • Just as our flight missions are unique and diverse, so are we. At STEM Flights we are committed to diversity and inclusion.  Not just for our growing workforce, but for the communities we serve- wherever we fly.

Core Vaues

STEM Flights Team


Director of Development

With a background in aviation and nonprofit marketing, Carley is dedicated to providing enriching flight experiences for both Pilot Mentors and Students. As a student pilot herself, she understands the importance of introducing aviation and STEM career pathways to young people.  Carley is Board Member of Air Care Alliance, Aviation Community Foundation, and Winchester Regional Airport Authority.  You can find her flying her 1963 C172 at her home airport KOKV in Winchester, VA.


Director of Flight Operations

Austin Campbell is a native Texan, born and raised in the Dallas area.  After graduating from North Mesquite High School, Austin enlisted in the U. S. Coast Guard where he excelled as an enlisted Petty Officer while also earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Criminal Justice Administration from Loyola University New Orleans.   After graduating from Officer Candidate School and receiving his commission, Austin went on to serve in high demanding operational and intelligence assignments.  These experiences fueled his passion and inspired him to continue to serve his community as a mentor and advocate in his post-military career.  Austin’s passion coupled with a continued desire to help and serve people compliments the mission of STEM Flights. 

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Director of Education

Maria has been a dedicated educator for the last 14 years and has taught in a variety of settings, educating students in the US as well as internationally.  She has a passion for helping students see their full potential by encouraging them to explore something new and believes that learning expands beyond the walls of a classroom; the world of STEM and aviation is the perfect place for students to witness that alongside STEM Flights!  After earning her Master's Degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Northern Colorado,  Maria worked in leadership roles that provided mentoring and guidance to students and educators.  Serving as the Director of Education for STEM Flights bridges her joy for education and the areas of STEM by working alongside students to help them access experiences that can empower them for their future.

Our Team

2024 Board of Directors


President, Board of Directors

“We need to identify the kids with challenges – lacking confidence or motivation.  Give them a comprehensive ‘mission experience’ - and help jump start their STEM or Pilot careers.  Our focus should not be on quantity of students, but on the quality.  Lets fill the void of a sample flight with a customized event”.  


-Dave Brubaker, former USAF Fighter Pilot and STEM Flights founder. 

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Vice President, Operations

Retired Brigadier General and F-16 Pilot, Bobbi was the first female fighter pilot selected by the Iowa Air National Guard after the law was changed in 1993. She is a former First Officer for American Airlines and serves on the Board of Directors of the White House Fellows.  In addition to an F-16 pilot, she was  Wing Commander of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Predator unit.  Bobbi is an experienced pilot with a passion for mentoring youth. Bobbi believes that dedication to service and leadership are important qualities for STEM Flights students to learn through flight experiences.  

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Vice President, Operations

A retired Air Force Major General and former international airline Captain for Delta, Gen Bradley has flown numerous aircraft and holds an FAA Remote pilot license. He’s also a former F-16 fighter pilot and MQ-9 Predator Wing Commander with extensive experience in Cyber Warfare and Communications.  Omar has experienced firsthand the benefit of early mentoring and believes this was key to him finding his life’s passion. As Vice President, Operations & Chief Pilot for STEM Flights, Omar will help expand our program nationally and inspire new volunteer Pilot Mentors.


Vice President

Kenneth Morris is a decorated United States Navy Veteran that flew aboard the P3-C Orion and P-8 Poseidon aircraft. As an Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom Veteran the awards and medals Kenneth have received are: Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal, NATO medal, Kosovo Air Campaign medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, Sea Service Deployment medal and more.


In December 2018, Kenneth made a successful career change as he was selected as 1 of 7 U.S. Military Veterans from a pool of thousands of decorated candidates, for a new national flying initiative, powered by the U.S. Department of Transportation called 'Forces to Flyers'. Kenneth is the only African American and minority chosen to fly in Texas with this new initiative. This program is designed to address the country-wide pilot shortage while working to provide veterans with the skills and training needed to become commercial airline pilots.  Kenneth is passionate about inspiring, motivating, training and introducing young people to the aviation industry.


Vice President and Secretary

Sam began flying at a young age in his uncle’s vintage Stearman. From those early days, he saw the love of flying among pilots. He also saw the great care, knowledge, and thought that went into each flight.  The background and expertise in STEM and aviation was essential to each mission and to a broader and more in-depth understanding of the world.  Sam believes that we are all responsible for making this knowledge and opportunity to students and youth so that they can carry it forward to the next generation.


Vice President

Britt H. Miller is an accomplished educational scholar and instructor with expertise in STEM and science education. With nearly a decade of experience as a STEM and science educator, Britt has demonstrated a deep commitment to fostering engaging learning environments through instruction, curriculum development, and learning experiences. Currently pursuing a PhD in Science Education, Britt is actively engaged in shaping the future of STEM education. Britt brings experiences from a number of national STEM education projects, underscoring her dedication to staying at the forefront of educational innovations and experiences, such as STEM Flights. In addition, Britt holds the distinction of being a fellow of the Community for Advancing Discovery Research in Education (CADRE) in STEM through the National Science Foundation.


Driven by her conviction in the transformative impact that STEM Flights has on students’ education and personal lives, Britt is eager to lend her expertise and knowledge to the program.

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Vice President, Operations

Ross is an active volunteer Pilot Mentor and assists STEM Flights with organizational improvements and growth on the west coast.  A 32-year veteran in the tech industry, Ross was most recently a Senior Director of Engineering at Dropbox. He previously worked at Microsoft for 24 years, starting out in Excel where he received four patents for innovative features such as AutoComplete and Text Import. Ross is also an ultrarunner and has competed in 28 ultramarathons including four 100-mile races.  A life-long supporter of public service projects, Ross is excited to combine his love of flying with inspiring kids to pursue STEM & aviation careers.  You can find him flying  his Cirrus SR-22 in the Seattle, Washington area. 

Board of Directors

2024 Advisory Board

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General David Goldfein served a 37-year career as a pilot in the United States Air Force(USAF), where he commanded at every level and finished his career as the 21st Chief of Staff of the Air Force.Dave currently serves as a Senior Advisor for Blackstone Investment Group, where he helps senior Blackstone leaders formulate and execute optimal courses of action based on an informed global risk assessment. Goldfein has been named a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and a Senior Fellow at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where he maintains a focus on their Air and Space portfolios.He received his commission from the US Air Force Academy in 1983, with a degree in Philosophy and later earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from Oklahoma City University. He is a graduate of the prestigious Air Force Weapons Instructor Course and the Department of State’s Senior Seminar program as a National Defense Fellow.


Rick found a love for flying early in life which resulted in soloing at 18 years of age. Soon after earning multiple ratings, Rick entered the military and flew the F100 and F4 for 15 years. Being an Air National Guard pilot allowed him to also fly with American Airlines where he retired after 35 years. Rick then became a Check Airman on several aircraft as well as an instructor and program developer for the Airlines Human Factors department. Had it not been for several mentors along the way, his career would not have been as fulfilling and so the values of mentorship is something he wishes to pass down. Rick says "Nothing makes me happier than inspiring young adults to throttle up."


David’s early introduction to flying as a teenager led to an aviation career in the FAA, Marine Corps, and GA. His passion for education and community service led him to launch several youth career orientation programs to inspire interest in STEM. In 2013 he founded a nonprofit chess organization which fosters critical thinking skills and mentorship in schools. David believes that, much like airplanes, young people have an origin and unique destination. He enjoys supporting them to achieve their own goals.


As the Head of Aviation for Lincoln Financial, Ryan Tollini has over 8,000 hours of flight time accumulated in his professional life. His passion for safety and flying won him recognition from the National Business Aviation Association, which awarded him as Top 40 Under 40 in the aviation industry. Involved with several industry groups, Ryan serves on NBAA’s Safety Committee, FAA’s Safety Team and as an FAA designated pilot examiner. Ryan serves as a Pilot Mentor and Volunteer for STEM Flights, where he relishes the opportunity to guide young pilots and promote safety best practices.

2024 Partners

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