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Giving Back: Aviation Day open to local youth for free on May 5

RESERVE — Tristan Green of LaPlace, 16, will fulfill a lifelong dream next month when he takes to the skies in his first solo flight as an airplane pilot.

Tristan Green, right, stands with Rising Star Baptist Church Pastor Donald August Sr.

Children and teenagers of the River Parishes can follow in Tristan’s footsteps by participating in the second annual St. John the Baptist Parish Aviation Awareness Day.

Organized by local nonprofit group Guys Achieving Goals, Aviation Awareness Day flies over local skies between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 5 at the Port of South Louisiana Executive Regional Airport in Reserve.

Children ages 4 to 18 can take a free flight on an airplane and learn STEM concepts from sponsored stations while enjoying complimentary snoballs and refreshments.

Paul Green Jr. speaks at last year’s Aviation Awareness Day.

An adult must accompany children under 5 years old. A rainout day is scheduled for May 12.

Tristan’s journey inspired his father, Paul Green Jr., to establish Guys Achieving Goals. A 1986 graduate of East St. John High School, Green began a career in aviation maintenance during his time in the U.S. Navy.

Upon returning home and sharing his passion with his children, Green noted a lack of local opportunities despite an airport located in St. John Parish.

Tristan’s mother, Theresa Green, believes aviation exposure could motivate those who assume adventurous careers are only attainable in movies.

“I’ve been a teacher for almost 20 years, and I see a lot of kids who study hard and work hard, graduate and end up working at Winn-Dixie or Walmart,” Theresa said. “They don’t have exposure to what they can be. Once they see they can have a career in aviation, maybe that will give them encouragement to move forward.”

Paul Green said aviation provides a gateway to careers as a stewardess, pilot, air traffic controller, airport manager or maintenance worker.

In early 2017, Green partnered with United Airlines pilot Cedric Grimes and Rising Star Baptist Church Pastor Donald August Sr. to establish Guys Achieving Goals and raise money for aviation education in the River Parishes.

Last year’s inaugural Aviation Awareness Day was a huge success, providing flights to more than 400 residents. The 2018 event will focus STEM education, Green said, adding displays from Oschner, the Coast Guard and Valero draw the connection between local businesses and aviation.

At the event, sign-up sheets will gauge interest for starting a local exploring aviation program for children interested in educational seminars and flight school.

Green said community support has been overwhelming.

“Local businesses have supplied tons of volunteers,” Green said. “Our church members are doing a lot. Now we’re seeing the community come together, no certain color or gender. It’s for everyone.”

Registration and consent forms will be available on-site. For more information, email sjaviationday@gmail.com.