July 24, 2013
By Jill W. Tallman
Two pilots hope to raise funds to enable them to create an “airbridge” between hundreds of North American schoolchildren and their counterparts in Africa. The pilots want to use aviation as a common denominator by encouraging students to collaborate on assignments.
Mireille Goyer, founder of the Kids Airbridge initiative, said the goal is to “motivate academic excellence among school kids and give them a chance to enjoy collaborating with others despite cultural differences.” Classes of North American children would be paired with children in Senegal to create 10 “airbridges,” and the twinned groups would perform a series of assignments. The first assignment involves creating paper airplanes as a gift of friendship.
Goyer and Victoria Zajko plan to deliver the paper airplanes by flying a Cessna 172 from France to Senegal. The two will follow the first trans-continental airmail route, known as the Aéropostale route. Goyer and Zajko are team leaders of the Women of Aviation Worldwide initiative, which seeks to draw more girls and women into aviation and aerospace.
A crowd-source funding campaign launched in July, and ends Aug. 23. Goyer and Zajko hope to raise $25,000. Along with funding the trip, which is planned to take place Oct. 4, and purchasing school supplies for classrooms in Senegal, they seek to create a secure computer platform that would enable the participating children to take an interactive role in tracking the flight and communicate with their bridge classmates.
Various levels of sponsorship are available, ranging from $10 for a personalized thank-you to $5,000 for the ability to put your logo on the airplane that will fly from France to Africa.
AOPA Technical Editor Jill W. Tallman is an instrument-rated private pilot who owns a Piper Cherokee 140.
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