Southwest Inspires New Generation with their 3rd Continuing the Legacy in Aviation Program

By Tyler Lackey, George Washington University Student

Students, parents, and community representatives from around the country had the chance of a lifetime. Southwest Airlines opened their headquarter doors for their third, annual Continuing the Legacy in Aviation program.

 Eleven students, and thirteen parents, chaperones and community representatives were allotted an all expenses paid, two-day trip as they toured the Dallas, Texas headquarters of Southwest.

“Southwest rolled out the red carpet for [us],” said Mary Dickson, who felt privileged to be able to represent the GWUL at the event. “I wish you could have seen the faces of the students and the adults as they met and sat next to pilots.” It was a complete eye opener for students as they were introduced to aviation.

Finalists were chosen through an essay based selection process; students ages eleven to eighteen were invited to apply for the hands-on-aviation experience.

“Southwest understands how seeing, touching, hearing, and doing opens up a whole new world for students,” says Karen Price Ward, who is the Southwest Corporate Community Affairs Manager as well as a member of numerous Boards in the Washington, DC area, including  that of the Greater Washington Urban League. “These are teachable and impressionable moments,” she continues. And these are definitely moments that these students and adults will not soon forget.

What  an experience they had:  Participants were given the opportunity to navigate the $31 million dollar Southwest flight simulators around the Dallas, Texas headquarters. Also, the students and parents had the privilege to be accompanied by two Tuskegee Airmen. And from what Mary Dickson says, the students did not waste any time introducing themselves and picking at the veterans’ knowledge.

“The students and adults had plenty of time to mix and mingle, ask questions and take pictures with these venerable soldiers,” she says.

While there, they were able to tour the Air and Space Museum which houses an exhibit dedicated to the Tuskegee Airmen. They had the chance to tour the Southwest Airlines Maintenance Facility, and the Customer support and services.

Before the participants left, Southwest Airlines set up a dinner with the diversity council of the company whose members encouraged them all to “SOAR for [their] dreams.”