EAA AirVenture Next On The Agenda
By ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
For most students, 'what I did on my summer vacation' consists
of, maybe, some camping, swimming and visiting friends. If you're
Jamail Larkins, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)
student, one of the country's youngest airshow performers and FAA
Ambassador of aviation and Aerospace Education your summer vacation
would include much more.
How would you like to appear at EAA Air Venture and give talks
at KidVenture, the museum and Air Academy Lodge, expand FAA
Ambassador position to include aviation safety, plan Fall
DreamLaunch Tour in donated Cirrus SR22 (give plane back at end of
tour) and fly to England commercially to star in a movie -
The word vacation is probably a misnomer but Larkins enjoys
every minute of his hectic schedule.
EAA Air Venture in Oshkosh (WI) July 25th - 31st is next on
Larkins' agenda. He has several programs where he will be speaking.
At KidVenture he'll be speaking to young people on aviation and
aerospace career opportunities.
His appearance on July 28th at Teacher's Day, along with Dick
Rutan and Marion Blakey, is aimed at informing local educators how
to apply aviation principles to math, science and technology
classes. The Air Academy Lodge program will cover scholarship
programs and programs in aviation to involve young people. In
between his scheduled programs, Larkins will be holding ground
school for Young Eagle rides. He'll also fly some of the Young
Eagle flights in the Cirrus SR22 on loan from Cirrus Design.
Larkins will be appearing at the ERAU booth and the AeroShell
booth. Then just in case that wasn't enough, he'll be announcing
the winner of the Ride of a Lifetime contest. The winner of the
contest and one parent will win an all expense paid trip to the
Embry-Riddle Florida Skyfest Airshow in Daytona Beach (FL) October
28th -30th. Larkins will be with the winner for the weekend and
give a behind the scenes tour of the airshow and a ride in his
Christian Eagle II. Aerobatics included.
Another announcement at AirVenture will be by the FAA to
formally announce the expansion of Larkins' role as Ambassador of
Aviation and Aerospace Education. In addition to his current task
of speaking to America's youth and teachers at many of the over 500
aviation education oriented events the FAA operates or co-sponsors,
Larkins says he will begin "advocating aviation safety and pilots
making the right decisions inside the cockpit, such as with the FAA
Wings program and other safety initiatives that are currently being
implemented by the FAA."
The new role will have Larkins speaking inside the industry, a
challenge he "looks forward to." One of the items Larkins will
focus on is "the technology advancements being implemented inside
of the cockpit."
This includes glass cockpits, satellite weather along with FAA
recommendations pilots can implement to make their flying safer.
Larkins realizes the new advancements make for "a huge technology
learning curve." He plans to use his own experiences to assist in
While most of Larkins' schedule is planned months in advance,
toward the end of June he learned that in the movie business
"things change drastically." What started in March with an e-mail
from a movie director who had seen Larkins' appearance on Letterman
ended up with Larkins' PR agent calling him in June to see if he
could be on a plane to England the next day.
The movie about five young WWI pilots who volunteered for
service prior to US involvement was to have Larkins in one of the
lead roles. He was unable to allot the large chunk of time the
filming would require, so the purpose of his trip was to double for
one of the stars in the flying portions.
He met the cast and crew as they had just finished filming.
David Ellison was playing one of the lead roles. Ellison was one of
Sean D. Tucker's Stars of Tomorrow who performed at AirVenture in
2003. Larkins' film career was not meant to be at this time, the
weather and difficulties with the Nieuport 17 aircraft replicas
made the trip a washout.
With film career on hold and AirVenture just around the corner,
Larkins has been trying to make some time to fly his Eagle to get
back into aerobatic shape. He plans to make a few appearances at
airshows later this season. He's currently scheduled to perform at
Erie (PA) September 11 and 12, then the Macon County Airshow in
Franklin (NC) October 22. He may also make an appearance at his
hometown airshow in Augusta (GA) on October 15 and 16...
Larkins will be sandwiching these appearances in between
engagements on his third DreamLaunch Tour which starts the end of
August. ERAU, Jeppesen, Cox and Michelin are all back on board as
sponsors to help Larkins share aviation opportunities with
America's youth. Cirrus will be loaning Larkins an SR22 for the
tour. Considering the time Larkins has spent in Cirrus SR20's and
SR22's, it seems there should be a Jamail Larkins model
Although the fall tour schedule is established, Larkins makes it
a point to mention that whenever possible, other schools and cities
are added in if they are nearby a currently scheduled city. See the
FMI link to send an e-mail to get a school on the schedule
While Larkins receives many thank you notes for his appearances,
every now and then he'll hear a story that confirms that he is
making a difference.
Late last year, the FAA and the Chicago Airport System hosted an
aviation oriented essay contest entitled "Who has influenced your
aviation career?" One young girl saw Larkins' Letterman spot and
When she turned 14, she emulated Larkins and traveled to Canada
to solo at age 14. Says Larkins "It was enough to keep that
interest sparked for a while until she turns 16." The young lady is
also volunteering at her local airport.
When Larkins hears these stories, he knows "there is some impact
happening." The biggest side benefit that Larkins sees coming from
his DreamLaunch Tours and other appearances is showing a different
side of the aviation community to mainstream America, "different
from the accidents and airspace incursions that have become common
on network television" Larkins says.
He also points to the "benefits that aviation provides the US
economy as well as the difference that it makes in our everyday
lives." Examples Larkins points to range from fresh cut flowers
sent to a loved one overnight to the medevac flights that save
Larkins stresses the positive side of aviation. He points out,
"Aviation, when we think about it, has always accomplished the
impossible." The public never believes it can be done, from the
Wright Brothers to the Rutan Brothers. He wants to expose these
great accomplishments to those outside of aviation.
"We have always been in the forefront of accomplishing the
impossible and what mainstream America and the rest of the world
sees as a weird dream, actually is just the beginning of one of
aviation's next historical events."