Nassau student wins top award at Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals ACE Academy in Atlanta

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Left to right: Retired Delta Air Lines Community Affairs Director Michael Young (And former Bahamas Honorary Consul General in Atlanta), Angela Rolle (Khayton's grandmother), Khayton Morley and Consul General The Honourable Randy Rolle. Photo: Chris Mitchell

Atlanta — A student from Nassau has won the top award among 40 students who participated in the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals’ Aviation Career Education Academies (ACE)  held this summer. The program which attracts hundreds of applicants from across the U.S., the Caribbean and abroad selects 40 of the most outstanding students from ages 13-18 to participate in the week-long academy sponsored by Delta Air Lines and held at Delta’s World Wide Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.

Khayton Morley,15 of Anatol Rogers High School, the only student from the Caribbean in the program, was presented with the Michael Young Award, the honor given to the most outstanding student in the Academy and named for the founder of the program and former Vice President of Community Affairs for Delta Air Lines. Young who retired from Delta in 2003  after 33 years with the airlines in addition to his role as VP of Community Affairs was also Vice President of Delta Air Lines Foundation. Young is the former honorary Consul General of the Bahamas in Atlanta.

“He was the smartest student in the class,” said Captain Emmanuel Burke, a pilot with UPS Air Lines and director of the ACE Academies in Atlanta. ” We tried to stump him but we couldn’t. He knew every part of the cockpit. He answered all of the questions correctly and was the only student who knew all the answers.”

“I always liked planes but when I knew I wanted to be a pilot I was 11 years old,” Khayton said.. He plans to make flying as a commercial pilot his career.

The most exciting aspect of the ACE program for Khayton was “getting to know people and all the friends I made who share my interest in aviation. We are connected and its like they are my family. I’ll miss them. It was fun for the days I was there. I wish it was longer”

Khayton bonded with his fellow classmates like Tristen Souder who during their time in the program invited him to join his family at the  Six Flags amusement park and to dinner and to a party at his home. He hopes he will get the opportunity to return next year for the advanced ACE Academy program known as “Flightline.” Ten of the top graduates of the ACE Academy are selected for the next Flight Line class  in 2014. The students interview for one of the coveted spots.

He learned of the opportunity to attend the free academy from family friend and former ACE Academy Director Captain Darryl Paul a pilot with UPS. Captain Paul and his wife Kimberly served as host family for Khayton, his mother Khalya Morley and grandmother Angela Rolle, who also traveled to Atlanta to the Bahamas with him.

At the ACE Academy,  the students are provided lessons in aviation history, aerodynamics, meteorology, navigation, flight training and simulator orientation with FAA qualified flight instructors, and much more. The program is run by a dedicated volunteer staff with the core members being aviation professionals who forego personal and vacation time to work with the students. The program director this year was First Officer Emmanuel Burke, pilot with UPS Airlines and, Marcus Neyor and Jason Innis, First Officers  with ExpressJet Airlines.

OBAP is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization and was founded in 1976 to increase the number of African-American pilots and women employed by major U.S. airlines. The mission of OBAP focuses on preparing young people to realize a successful future in aviation through educational opportunities, mentoring, and aviation projects.
Founded in 1989 by OBAP, Aviation Career Education (ACE) academies have provided more than 2,400 youth with comprehensive training in various aviation disciplines.

Highlights of the program include a trip on the OBAP ” Delta Dream Flight” that takes the students on a one day trip to aviation places of interest. This year the students traveled on the Delta Air Lines 757 chartered jet to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. Often members of the Tuskegee Airmen are on the flight.

OBAP has ACE Academies in 31 cities including Atlanta,  Phoenix, Louisville, Dallas, Las Vegas, Memphis, Pensacola, Apple Valley, Dover, Cleveland, North Virginia, Columbus, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Memphis, Pontiac, San Antonio, Chicago, Jackson, San Diego, Bethel Alaska, New Mexico, Seattle, Western Michigan University and in the Caribbean islands of St. Thomas and San Juan Puerto Rico.