Soaring Academy gives veterans a chance to fly

By Death Wish Coffee — / Death Wish Coffee Blog

How the Soaring Academy helps United States Veterans

By Angela Garrity, Guest blogger 

In this episode of Fueled by Death Cast, Jeff shoots the breeze with the owner of the Southern California Soaring Academy and Glider School, Chris Bennett, who knows all about helping others reach new heights.

Two elderly male United States veterans stand with two women outside of the Soaring Academy

The Soaring Academy is a nonprofit organization located in the area that Bennett refers to as “ground zero for aviation."

“Right out here is Edwards, where a lot of the early flight test was done back in the day, and it still does. Over here we have Gray Butte and El Mirage, where a lot of the prototyping and research flights for the modern UAVs, the drones, the Reapers, the Predators," Bennett said. "Just about 70 miles that way is Mojave Space Port, where they're doing SpaceShipOne and all the latest civilian space stuff. ... You'd be surprised who is on our field flying on any given day, from NASA U-2 pilots to test pilots out at Edwards to Delta pilots.”

Soaring Academy believes in giving back and has done extensive work with wounded veterans. From physical to mental, Bennett and his wife, Julie, are happy to work with any veterans in need.

"It gives them a day away from what their life is,” he said.

Veterans of all ages and instructors from the Soaring Academy in California sit together around a picnic table and eat lunch

Being up in a glider transcends lives, even for just a short while. That hour reset is critical for vets who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder by providing them an adrenaline rush in a safe environment.

In the beginning, the Soaring Academy only worked with active duty military before eventually opening it up for all veterans. From Vietnam to Desert Storm veterans —and even some WWII veterans — the Soaring Academy provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to recapture a sense of adventure.

Today, the Souring Academy has logged more than 2,300 glider rides for veterans of all ages.  

"Anybody who’s a veteran — we take them flying,” Bennett said. 

For more on Bennett and the Soaring Academy, check out Fueled by Death Cast Episode 140 to learn more about the experience and how you can help veterans experience a once-in-a-lifetime flight through giving back


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