Embry-Riddle Partners With Delta Air Lines, OBAP To Diversify Talent Pipeline

Embry-Riddle flight instructor Daniel Buchanan takes two teens in OBAP’s Aerospace Career Education Academy on an introductory flight
Embry-Riddle flight instructor Daniel Buchanan (’20), back left, takes two teens in OBAP’s Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy on an introductory flight. (Photos: OBAP)

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University helped more than 50 minority teens take flight this summer through a partnership with Delta Air Lines and the Atlanta Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) to expand diversity in the aviation industry.

“This is the first one I have ever been a part of, and it was incredible,” said Daniel Buchanan (’20), an Embry-Riddle graduate and flight instructor who attended the event as a pilot mentor and took teens on introductory flights. “You are introducing kids to aviation who might not otherwise have a chance to fly.”

The introductory flight program, part of OBAP’s Aerospace Career Education (ACE) Academy, resumed after a two-year pause due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is part of Delta’s ongoing efforts to widen its talent pipeline through more inclusive hiring protocols.

Programs like this are important to inspire the next generation of aviators, Buchanan said. Growing up in Jamaica and New York, he got the aviation spark after watching planes take off from JFK Airport with his dad.

“When kids are able to see themselves represented, it makes them know that it is achievable,” he said.

50 minority teens take flight this summer through a partnership with Delta Air Lines and the Atlanta Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University helped more than 50 minority teens take flight this summer through a partnership with Delta Air Lines and the Atlanta Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals to expand diversity in the aviation industry.

Embry-Riddle has been a partner of the OBAP program for many years now, according to Delta Capt. Kyle Greene, director of the Atlanta ACE Academy and an academy graduate himself.

“Many of the students had never been on an airplane, and for them to experience that is life-changing,” said Greene. “This OBAP program offers minority teens exposure to an industry that normally isn’t thought of as a career option for them.” 

Another flight instructor in the program, Alina Gagliola (’21), a minority female pilot herself as well as an Embry-Riddle graduate, agreed.

“It was just a really cool experience,” she said. “It was really exciting for them to be exposed to flying.”

Gagliola became interested in flying after growing up traveling the world with her mom, who taught internationally.

“Access, exposure and mentorship are vital to cultivating students’ passion for aviation,” said Keyra Lynn Johnson, Delta’s vice president and chief of diversity, equity and inclusion. “A diverse workforce starts with a diverse pipeline, and Delta is committed to widening the funnel and decreasing barriers to find talented and qualified people to join us.”

Ivan Grau, chief flight instructor at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus, said that the university supplies the aircraft and flight instructors that make the introductory flights possible.

“I can’t thank Embry-Riddle enough for the support and for changing these students’ lives in a fantastic way,” said Greene.

Posted In: Aviation | Institutional News