Momentum Member Spotlight – November 2012
AIAA Congratulates Judy Rice
By Duane Hyland, AIAA Communications
AIAA Members Spotlight – November, 2013 AIAA Congratulates Judy A. Rice By: Duane Hyland AIAA’s Member Spotlight for the month of November shines on Judy A. Rice, Educator Associate member, Executive Director of Fly to learn, and pilot for the upcoming Think Global Flight, a circumnavigation of the Earth, set to take off in the fall of 2013.
Rice is passionately committed to aerospace education, and is committed to bringing the wonder and science of flight to as many of the world’s students, and citizens, as possible. As Executive Director of Fly to Learn, she enables students of all ages to learn science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through designing, building, and flying virtual airplanes. Her past positions, as Deputy Director of Aerospace Education for the Civil Air Patrol and as the Executive Director of Youth Education with the Experimental Aircraft Owners Association, have allowed her to use a multitude of skills – from curriculum design to video production – to bring others closer to understanding the scientific principles behind flight, as well as helping them to capture the wonder and imagination that flight bestows.
Rice’s current effort to promote flight and STEM is the Think Global Flight, scheduled for take-off in Fall, 2013. The Think Global Flight, piloted by Rice, will be an around-the-world flight which will allow students in grades K-12 to help play a role in the circumnavigation of the Earth. Student Command Centers around the world, students working under the direction of educators, will help prepare, analyze and transmit data which will be needed to keep the Think Global Flight going. The experience will give students “hands-on” experience with issues subjects like: Green Technology, Global Flight Planning, International Relations, and Performance Factors. They will work along with the professional members of the Think Global Flight team to keep the flight moving, and to ensure the safety and success of the venture.
When asked about the reason she was undertaking the Think Global Flight, Rice stated: “At the beginning of my, now, 20 year aerospace education career, I met Dick Rutan, and he became my friend and mentor. Years ago, Dick said I should fly around the world if I really wanted to inspire kids. I knew I needed experience and everything that comes with accomplishing a big project (dream). It has taken a lot of work and we are 85% there! I hope to inspire the future generation of aviators, engineers, scientist, medical professionals, clerks, waitresses, any one, any age that ever had a dream or didn’t know they have a dream - to accomplish their dream!”
Like so many members profiled in the Spotlight column across the years, when asked about her inspiration to seek a career in aerospace, Rice reported: “I was born with wings.” She continued: “I was always looking ‘up’ or looking at picture books with airplanes. Later, reading about airplanes. Sharing my desire to fly had responses of discouragement, “Good girls don’t fly!” So I became a dedicated special education teacher and had a wonderful family. When at 40 years old, I discovered ‘good girls do fly!’ and I earned my wings.” “At the same time I discovered the power of aviation in the classroom with my students. Even as a fledging pilot, I could not find materials suitable for teaching my students – thusly, after 16 years as a teacher and with a son almost grown, I started a new life in aerospace education.” As for her inspirations, Rice replied: “What inspired me to enter the aerospace profession? The little girl, almost 60 years ago, sitting in the corner looking at picture books about flying airplanes, dreaming ‘someday that will be me! My earliest influence was the first African American person (not just woman!) in history to become a pilot, Bessie Coleman. She was also told she shouldn’t/couldn’t fly but overcame all obstacles and earned her wings. Her motto, to which I adopted, is ‘Never take no for an answer!’”
Rice said that her favorite career moments happen with “Every rating I earn. The solo was when I knew I could fly, ‘I CAN do this!” Then earning the private pilot license…. then….and so on. I knew after my first flight lesson that I wanted to be a flight instructor, so this past fall, earning my flight instructor certificate was a milestone.”
The future of aerospace will be “commercial space flight, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs),” according to Rice. She continued: “We are revolving with technology and entering a new age of flying. The airplane I own is what we call ‘round dials’. He is a delight to fly with his basic panel and responsiveness. However, he is not what I will be taking on my global flight! I am flying the Cirrus SR 20 G3, a very high technology, general aviation airplane with glass panel and autopilot. Technology and space is our future.”
Lastly, Rice offered this advice for students still in school pursuing, or thinking of pursing, a degree in aerospace: “Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics! These are not only buzz words but the door to their future. Study, work toward their dream keeping their sights on their goals and don’t let anyone stop them. It might not be easy at times, but it’s worth every moment.”
AIAA congratulates Rice for her work in promoting STEM and flight among children of all ages, and for being named the AIAA Member Spotlight for November 2013. We wish her the best as she undertakes the Think Global Flight, and will touch base with her during her mission.