Dreams Take Flight for Soar into STEM Alum

On August 31, Kirkwood High School junior, Ethan Peterson, made his first solo flight at Elite Aviation at Spirit of St. Louis Airport. Ethan’s journey to earning his wings began last April, when he was one of 20 students to participate in the pilot session of Wings of Hope’s Soar into STEM hands-on learning experience.

Ethan asked Wings of Hope President Bret Heinrich to write a letter recommending him for the competitive AOPA student flight training scholarship. And he was one of 80 students nationwide selected for the scholarship in 2020 which paid for him to take flight lessons at Elite Aviation at Spirit of St. Louis Airport.

When he found out he was awarded the scholarship, Ethan was quick to send Bret a thank you note that said, in part, “I don’t think I would be nearly as interested in flight and aviation if it wasn’t for the Wings of Hope programs … You, and Wings of Hope, have made it possible for me to pursue my dreams, and not everyone gets to do that.”

Ethan wasn’t always that interested in airplanes. “In middle school, I was focused on space and rockets,” he said. “Only problem was that a lot of jobs involving satellites, rockets and stuff like that mean looking at a computer screen with a bunch of numbers on it.”

He was looking for something more hands on.

“Soar into STEM was very big for me because I learned a lot about all the aspects of aviation and, most importantly, it was very involved. If I want to learn about rockets, I have to read a textbook. But learning about planes meant doing maintenance on them, going up in the air traffic control tower and being in the cockpit. Even interacting with a small plane like a Cessna is infinitely more interesting than reading about the newest NASA mission. Without Soar into STEM, I don’t think I would have had many opportunities to interact with aircraft.”

We are so proud of Ethan — and so happy that Soar into STEM is inspiring students like Ethan to take their passion for STEM and aviation to the next level.

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