Camp Willa participant sits in the cockpit with the door open smiling.

For the second year in a row, the Willa Brown Aviation Academy, or WBAA, will host Camp Willa, a one-week day camp that caters to kids 12 to 17. This program will run July 11-15 and seeks to expand access to the various experiences and careers aviation has to offer through tours of airport facilities and hands-on activities such as flight simulators. Camp Willa participants will also have the opportunity to take a Young Eagle Flight, a free airplane ride program through the Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA. The whole idea is to introduce more kids to potential careers in aviation — particularly kids who’ve been historically overlooked. Only 7-9% of pilots are women and about 96% of U.S. pilots identify as white.

Various organizations have sought to encourage diversity in the aviation industry for decades. Among some are the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals and Black Wings in Aviation. The Willa Brown Aviation Academy is a non-profit educational organization that takes a more localized approach. This all-volunteer group seeks to promote aviation education with a particular emphasis on the underserved youth in the Madison area.