Airbus Flying Challenge

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In January of 2016, United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) and Airbus Americas Engineering Mobile, in partnership with the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center (Exploreum), the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF), and the Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) launched the Flying Challenge program in Mobile, one of two U.S. Flying Challenge sites and one of six around the globe. Funding is provided by the Airbus Corporate Foundation in Toulouse, France.

The Flying Challenge is a mentoring program focused on character development and STEM activities for children attending Palmer Pillans Middle School. The program presents the opportunity for Airbus employees to provide career exploration, life skills discussions, educational activities, and academic enrichment to middle school students. The goal is to enhance students’ life options by improving their grades, inspiring them to finish high school, and stimulating their interest in an aviation-related career.

Currently, fewer Americans are likely to earn a diploma than their parents, a distinction not shared by any other industrialized country. Students participating in similar programs have improved attitudes, beliefs and behavioral intentions about school, academics, and careers.

“The Flying Challenge presents the opportunity for Airbus to partner with local organizations who are instrumental in helping prepare students for a successful transition into high school,” said David Trent, Airbus Mobile Engineering Site Director. “Airbus shapes the future of air transportation on a daily basis, but through this program, Airbus employees are able to inspire students to better shape their future. The students are able to see that good habits, hard work, and the right attitude today matter for their tomorrow.”

In addition to making children more confident in their schoolwork, research has shown that mentoring makes students less likely to skip class or school and less likely to begin using illegal drugs or alcohol.

“It takes an entire community to make a difference and we have to do our part. Our children deserve a strong start in life,” said Clifford Grimes, UWSWA President and CEO. “Through the Flying Challenge, we have an opportunity to encourage students, giving them the hope and the inspiration needed to pursue a great life.”

The Airbus Corporate Foundation in Toulouse, France, also sponsors Flying Challenges in Wichita, Kansas, Germany, Spain and France. The Foundation is donating approximately $81,000 in program funding for the Mobile program.

Airbus Flying Challenge 2016

Airbus Flying Challenge – Glider Challenge from United Way of Southwest Alabama on Vimeo.


Airbus Flying Challenge 2017



Airbus Flying Challenge Thank You from United Way of Southwest Alabama on Vimeo.

About Airbus Americas

Airbus Americas locations in Herndon, VA; Atlanta, GA; Miami, FL; Wichita, KS; and Mobile, AL have partnered with The United Way of the National Capital Area, United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, United Way of Miami-Dade, United Way of the Planes, and the United Way of Southwest Alabama, respectively. With a team of more than 55,000 people around the world, Airbus manufactures the most modern and eco-efficient family of airliners available, ranging from 100 to over 500 seats. Airbus has assembly facilities in Toulouse, France; Hamburg, Germany; Tianjin, China; and Mobile, Alabama. Airbus has spent more than $170 billion in the U.S. since 1990—$15.9 billion in 2014 alone—with hundreds of American suppliers in more than 40 states. For more information about Airbus, please visit

About United Way of Southwest Alabama

United Way of Southwest Alabama (UWSWA) serves Choctaw, Clarke, Mobile, and Washington counties. Created in 1926 as a Community Chest, UWSWA’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the community. The vision of UWSWA is to strengthen communities by focusing on uniting and mobilizing resources in support of the building blocks for a better life: education, financial stability, health, and essentials. UWSWA has raised and invested into our community more than $245 million to help strengthen its capacity for positive community progress. Many of the issues that affect our community are addressed by funded programs and initiatives that help more than half a million local people each year. For more information, visit

About Mobile Area Education Foundation

The Mobile Area Education Foundation, founded in 1992, is Mobile’s only community-based nonprofit leading a count-wide partnership of citizens, businesses, public schools, and public agencies working together to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed, experience a rigorous and relevant education, and graduate college and career ready.

 About Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center

With more than 150 interactive exhibits, thought-provoking larger-than-life IMAX films, and fun, hands-on educational programming, the Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center aspires to increase science literacy among the people of south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region, residents and visitors alike. It does this through permanent hands-on galleries, educational exhibitions, guided tours, lectures, classes, school field trips, youth camps, exciting festivals and events, and interactive demonstrations using chemistry, healthy cooking, engineering, art, physics, aviation, earth science, and more. It is a destination for families with children, adults, seniors and all ages.  By sparking imagination, creating curiosity, and instilling a sense of wonder in the world, the Exploreum has been a cornerstone of informal learning on the Gulf Coast since its inception more than 30 years ago. With the continued support of the community—visionary civic leaders, generous donors, contributing members and volunteers—the Exploreum is able to bring the world of science to the Gulf Coast.


The Mobile County Public School System (MCPSS) is the largest in the state of Alabama with approximately 59,000 students in 90 schools.  MCPSS earns state and national recognition and holds a record of 99.6 percent of highly qualified teachers.  Accredited by national standards of AdvanceEd, the mission of the MCPSS is to graduate citizens who are literate, responsible, and committed to learning. Offering a variety of pathways to academic and career success, visit us at for more.