VANDALIA, Ohio (WDTN) – Every year, a student is chosen to fly with stunt pilot Sean D. Tucker ahead of the Dayton Air Show. Students compete in the Young Eagle’s Essay Contest hosted by Tucker.
This year, Olivia Collins, a sixth grader at Fairborn’s Baker Middle School won the chance to fly. She was chosen after writing an essay where she explained what the flight would mean for her.
Collins to 2 NEWS she was very excited to hear the news she’d won.
“My mom came back to my room and once I was told, I started crying,” Collins said.
Collins said she wrote about her grandfather in the winning essay. She said she wanted to honor the U.S Air Force veteran who passed away from cancer one year ago. She also wanted to win for her father.
“We never get to spend time with each other anymore. Since I did win, it meant he got to take the day off work so he can come see me fly,” Collins said.
It’s the sixth year of Tucker’s Young Eagles Essay Contest.
“They put skin in the game and we learn a lot from them,” Tucker said.
Aside from getting to go up in the air, Collins is now a member of the Experimental Aviation Association. It’s an organization for people with interests in aviation. “The scholarship opportunities that sh’s going to have, that shes going to see, this is going to be the start of a journey,” Tucker said.
The Dayton Air Show performer hopes the contest sparks career interests in the growing aviation industry.
Maintenance jobs, flying drones, managing airports, air traffic controllers, there’s so much to do and they can make a good living,” Tucker said.
It’s an idea already on Collin’s mind. She’s debating between a career as a nurse and the U.S. Air Force.
“My mom was a nurse and I want to go into the Air Force to honor my grandfather,” Collins said.