Compton students visited by helicopters, Tuskegee Airman to promote science learning

COMPTON, Calif. (KABC) -- There was lots of excitement Wednesday at a school in Compton as two helicopters flew onto the campus, an opportunity to get more than 1,000 children excited about science, math and technology through aviation.

Benjamin O. Davis Middle School in Compton is named for the commander of the World War II Tuskegee Airmen. Students got to meet one of the Tuskegee pilots, along with some contemporary pilots during Wednesday's visit.

"They could be any of us, because they're learning stuff that I didn't learn till I was getting out of college, they're now knowing this in 6th grade, 7th grade and 8th grade," said Robin Petgrave, founder of Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum.

Petgrave founded his own aeronautical museum 15 years ago to teach inner-city kids about flying, even becoming future pilots -- and the importance of a good education.

The kids also met 92-year-old Levi Thornhill, who served in World War II as a Tuskegee Airman.

"The better you prepare yourself, the better job you're going to do, the better life you're going to have, and the better contribution you're going to make to mankind," said Thornhill.

The second helicopter that landed belongs to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department. The children got a chance to check it out and speak to the pilots.

The message for the kids: Their future career possibilities are endless.

"One of these kids could become an astronaut. And for every one kid that becomes an astronaut, they could wind up being an airline captain, they could end working in a control tower. They could be anything a kid likes to do, there's a place for that in aviation and aerospace," said Petgrave.

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