Aerospace Days

Friends of Albert Whitted Airport, St. Pete Air, and PASSAGE, enable children from across the Tampa Bay area to discover the excitement of flight at our bi-annual Aerospace Days.

Children are natural scientists; they thrive in hands-on exploration. Aerospace Days give children experiential learning opportunities like taking their first flight; helping an astronaut build a simulated comet; or using an infrared telescope. 

These are just some of the activities they experience at Albert Whitted Airport (AWA) during Aerospace Days, helping ignite their love of aviation and gain the confidence to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and aviation.

The next AWA Aerospace Day is March 23, 2024.

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On April 29, 2023, St. Pete Air and Friends of Albert Whitted Airport hosted the PASSAGE Aerospace Day. There was real excitement in the newest hangar at the airport, with presentations, workshops, and discovery flights. For many, the highlight was the personal stories of the incredible world-class speakers. Their lives show that stellar possibilities present themselves when aviation doors open. Here’s a quick recap.

Kevin DeBruin

Kevin DeBruin knew that he wanted to be an aerospace engineer from the age of 10. He’s an expert in NASA’s mission and spacecraft design process and he loves to share his knowledge by educating and inspiring others. His accolades include:

  • Being a NASA rocket scientist
  • Having a Master of Science in Aerospace 
  • Being an author of ‘To Dare Mighty Things,’ and ‘To NASA and Beyond.’

Reflecting on the event, Kevin said “It shows how vital aviation and technology is to the community at St. Pete.”

Nicole Stott

Nicole Stott is a retired NASA astronaut. She served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station and was a mission specialist. 

She’s also an author and an artist, and she combines her awe and wonder of her space flight experience with her artwork. 

Speaking at the event, Nicole said “When I think about education, I think about inspiration as well, igniting curiosity, and getting kids out to an airport and looking at things in a whole new way.”

Nicole was clearly showing her love for Albert Whitted Airport on the day. “Smaller airports like this offer an opportunity you can’t get in a lot of other places.”

Lee Giat

As a filmmaker, pilot, and science communicator, Lee Giat combines his love for space and film. He first picked up a camera at the age of 7, and he holds a Multimedia Production degree and a background in astrophysics. 

Lee has recently returned from a 60-day solo flight expedition, Passage Flight. He’s the CEO of Flying Ostrich Media.

An incredible experience

Dunedin High School’s robotics STEAM students were so thrilled by the event that they posted on Facebook.

“Students had the great privilege of meeting Lee Giat, Passage Flight; Kevin J DeBruin, Space Expert (To Dare Mighty Things author); Astronaut, Nicole Stott; and Héllen Távora, Airborne Astronomist Ambassador at the Friends of Albert Whitted airport STEM event: Aerospace Day. What an experience! There are no words that can describe how much students enjoyed the experience! Students were enlightened about all possible career paths in aviation and space exploration.”

Dream big and blast off 

We can imagine the dreams that were inspired during Aerospace Day. And when it comes to dreams, we say: the sky’s the limit. 

Our mission at Friends of AWA is to raise awareness of Albert Whitted Airport as an asset to the city of St. Petersburg. We all know that Albert Whitted Airport has an incredible history. We think that it should have an incredible future, too. 

Speaking at the event, Walt Driggers, Executive Director of Friends of Albert Whitted Airport said “Friends of Albert Whitted Airport was created to be able to educate the community about the value of the airport.”

For almost 100 years, Albert Whitted Airport has stood proudly as an essential and respected landmark in the downtown St. Pete landscape. We can see why so many people – both in the local community and in the aviation community – are working so hard to highlight all the things the community loves about this St. Pete gem.

Albert Whitted Airport is going to keep reaching for the stars. 

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