CFF’s 2013 SOaR™ Aviation
Aerospace Science
Summer Camp

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Napalm Explodes behind Cobra Attack Helicopter

Napalm explodes behind a Cobra Attack Helicopter hovering in front of thousands of spectators at an air and ground show at McEntire Army and Air National Guard Base in 2009. (Photo by WSM)

Maggie, Celebrate Freedom Foundation's Cobra Helicopter

Maggie flies over the tree tops and performs a flyover as thousands below cheer at 2012 Celebrate Freedom Festival in Finlay Park, Columbia, S.C. (Photo by WSM)

U.S. Army Demonstration Team Cobra Helicopter

A U.S. Army Demonstration Team Cobra Helicopter roars past thousands of spectators attending an air and ground show at McEntire Army and Air National Guard Base in 2009.  (Photo by WSM)

Black Hawk Helicopter Hovers

As thousands of spectators attending the 2009 Air and Ground Show at McEntire Army and Air National Guard Base, a Black Hawk Helicopter hovers as the pilot demonstrates the aircraft's maneuverability.  (Photo by WSM)

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Forty-Nine High School Students Graduate from Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s
2013 SOaR™ Aviation Aerospace Science Summer Camp

STUDENT Leaders Speak — Four students — (standing, left to right) Candis Lochan, David Austin, Sydney Fosnight and Jonathan Taylor Jones — were recognized as leaders during this year’s SOaR™ Summer Camp. In the photo above, they are shown describing their camp experience. 

Photos by Stuart Morgan 
Scroll down to the bottom of this page for more photos.

Jack Lovelady
President, CFF

Dr. Russell “Russ” David
CFF’s SOaR™ Director

Joe Rich
Keynote Speaker

Maj. Gen. John Lenti
CFF Chairman and CEO

Paul Werts, Exec. Dir.
S.C. Aeronautics Comm.


Aiken, S.C. — Forty-nine high school students graduated on Saturday, July 13 from the Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s SOaR™ Aviation Aerospace Science Summer Camp, held July 7 – 13 at Clemson University’s Youth Learning Institute, Camp Long, in Aiken.

“The purpose of the camp is to help the students understand that there are opportunities available to them in aviation,” said Dr. Russell “Russ” David, director of CFF’s SOaR™ Aviation Aerospace Education Program.  “We emphasize STEM subjects like science, technology, engineering and mathematics, because this is a technological age, and most good careers ─ not just jobs but good careers ─ are in technology.

“We also emphasize careers in aviation because it’s one of the largest industries in the world,” Dr. David added.  “Aviation is such a broad field, and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to be able to get into aviation.  Most people, when they think of aviation, think about flying as a pilot.  But being a pilot is a very small part of aviation.  Just like Maggie, Celebrate Freedom Foundation’s Cobra helicopter, it takes 34 people on the ground to support that helicopter but only one pilot to fly it.”

The STEM Summer Camp’s curriculum is based on CFF’s SOaR™ Program, an academic outreach program that supports STEM in middle and high schools and strives to stimulate career choices.  SOaR™ stands for School/Student Opportunities and Rewards, and strives to enhance the performance and success of students and to promote career options ─ particularly in aviation.

Eleventh and twelfth grade students from across South Carolina and neighboring states compete each year to attend the STEM Summer Camp, which is designed for 50 students.

This year’s students took challenging classes, but they also flew aircraft, trained on flight simulators and enjoyed cross-country flights to cities across the state.

The students participated in field trips to Shaw Air Force Base where they saw F-16 Fighters up close, met pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel, visited a control tower and a high altitude pressure chamber.

They also visited Eagle Aviation and S.C. Aeronautics Commission in Columbia and several manufacturing facilities in the midlands, including Apex Tool Group, where they learned about engineering and manufacturing.

Bob Day, Engineering Services Manager for Apex Tool Group in Lexington, said his company wanted to provide students a real world experience in manufacturing ─ from conceptual design, marketing to final production. 

“We cannot gain any measure of competitiveness without involving all elements of the design process,” Day explained.  “It has been my experience that engineering and manufacturing share equally in the success or failure of any product being released.

“We also did not want the students just to have a whirlwind tour of our facility and get back on the bus and not remember anything about their experience,” he added.  “We wanted to take our time to provide them a quality experience that would not only benefit them this week, but later as they decide upon their career choices.”

Maj. Gen. John Lenti, USA (Ret.), Chairman and CEO of Celebrate Freedom Foundation, thanked parents for allowing their children to participate in this year’s science summer camp.

“This is a pretty select group,” he said.  “More than 300 students applied, but only 49 were selected.  Each student had a minimum SAT of 1100.”

This year’s summer camp was sponsored primarily by the S.C. Aeronautics Commission.

“Obviously, Boeing is interested in the future of aviation for the State of South Carolina,” Maj. Gen. Lenti said.  “And I believe everyone recognizes the name, ‘Boeing’, and the importance of having those secondary and tertiary manufacturing firms that support the main firm at Boeing.

“There’s a great full-integrated industry in South Carolina that’s being developed right now in the aviation field,” he added.  “So, it stands to reason that our young generation coming up right now should have a full appreciation of the importance of aviation for South Carolina, for the nation and for the health and welfare of their own careers.

Paul Werts, Executive Director of the S.C. Aeronautics Commission, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, afterward described this year’s camp as a great success.  He also said his agency supports CFF’s STEM Summer Camp because the agency wants to give children in this state and our future leaders an opportunity to be exposed to aviation.

“When Boeing came to South Carolina, they needed a new workforce,” Werts explained.  “Most of the people who came to work for Boeing transitioned from the State of Washington, and we just did not have the technology at the time to provide the labor force for them.  And, of course, the labor force is critical for our state and economic development.

“So, we want this summer camp to be expanded,” he added.  “Right now, we’re just basically looking at it through the Celebrate Freedom Foundation with students who have a higher SAT.  But like I said to the Board of the Celebrate Freedom Foundation when it met on Friday, July 12 in Columbia, we don’t always need to focus on the SAT.  There are so many people in South Carolina who may not have a high SAT score ─ but do have so many powerful skill sets ─ that we need to expand upon this as well.”

“Life is a race, and you guys are our future."
— Joe Rich, Keynote Speaker, President and Owner of Sunshines Solutions of Orangeburg

Joe Rich, President and CEO of Sunshine Solutions in Orangeburg, was the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony, held from 10 a.m. to noon.

“Life is a race, and you guys are our future,” Rich said, as he addressed this year’s graduates who stood nearby in their five different camp groups ─ the Cobras, Eagles, F-35 Lightning II, Fighting Falcons and Super Hornets. “So, I implore you to look at what you’re doing in school, focus on what your goals are going to be, make some selections and some career path choices and go for them.  And don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t.  There isn’t anything that you can’t achieve.”

Student Leaders


Candis Lochan 


David Austin  

Sydney Fosnight  

Jonathan Taylor Jones


Rich, interviewed after the graduation ceremony, said the Celebrate Freedom Foundation and its programs deserve support.

“There isn’t another venue to expose children to an experience like this summer camp has,” he explained. “Quite frankly, this is it.  You’re not getting the exposure in the classroom to careers in aviation in the way that the Celebrate Freedom Foundation provides it.

“You’re talking about exposing students to aircraft that they would never see or experience in their entire lifetime,” Rich added.  “A very small percentage of Americans or  people on this globe will ever be exposed to subjects like this.  But the Celebrate Freedom Foundation introduces these subjects to students at an age when they can apply what they’ve learned, use it and direct their career goals.”

Lt. Col. Michael Standish, Commander of the Columbia Recruiting Battalion, was among the guests attending the graduation ceremony.

“This camp is outstanding,” he said.  “It’s outstanding to get our students out here to do these great things.

“We want to encourage America’s youth to explore options, including military service, and to just better themselves and to be better citizens over the long run,” Lt. Col. Standish added.  “STEM subjects are critical to manufacturing, and it’s something we also need in the military.  A lot of the things that we deal with, in terms of the technologies that we have, requires technical education.  And if you don’t have it, it’s very difficult to accomplish the missions that we have.” 


Lt. Col. Michael Standish
Columbia Recruiting Battalion, Columbia, S.C.

Bob Day
Engineering Services Manager
Apex Tool Group, Lexington, S.C.

Partners and Team Sponsors
• Blue Cross Blue Shield • Boeing • City of Columbia • Clemson University • Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company • Double O Radio • Duke Energy's Aviation Department • Eagle Aviation • FN Manufacturing • Lockheed Martin • Mariner Group • PGBA • Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics • Richland County • SAFE Federal Credit Union • S.C. Aeronautics Commission • SCANA Corporation/SCE&G Company  • Sunshine Recycling Solutions • Sysco • UPS • U.S. Army Columbia Recruiting Battalion • West Point Society of Columbia, S.C. • Women in Aviation International, Charleston, S.C.

Photos by Mark Moody
Administrative Assistant
Youth Development Center
Youth Learning Institute
Clemson University

More Photos by Stuart Morgan
Director of Public Affairs
Celebrate Freedom Foundation
Photos by Bob Day
Engineering Services Manager
Apex Tool Group

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