All-female aircrew, TLR Airmen participate in Smithsonian’s "S.H.E. Can" graduation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Valerie Halbert
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

An all-female aircrew, accompanied by female Airmen from various units across Team Little Rock, flew a C-130J Super Hercules to Northwest Arkansas to participate in a graduation ceremony for the National Air and Space Museum’s “S.H.E. Can” STEAM Aviation Camp at Har-Ber High School in Springdale, Arkansas, July 28, 2023.

The “S.H.E. Can” Aviation Camp is designed for 6th through 8th grade students with an interest in aviation and seeks to empower youths to succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics fields.

Soldiers from the Arkansas National Guard also flew a UH-60 Blackhawk to participate in the ceremony. After landing at the Regional Jet Center, the students were able to tour the aircraft and speak with Airmen and Soldiers about their unique experiences in STEAM career fields.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Therese Landin, 34th Combat Training Squadron commander, served as the keynote speaker and pinned wings on the students for their graduation. Landin earned her commission from the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership (VWIL) and is a senior pilot with over 1,500 flight hours including combat missions in support of Operation New Dawn, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.

“These wings that you’re going to receive today were flown here on our aircraft which is a big deal in the military,” Landin said. “This is a really important symbol of our appreciation and respect for what you've done.”

During her remarks, Landin spoke about her military career and the importance of teamwork and support within military aviation.

“Most of us had no idea what we wanted to do when we grew up or who we wanted to be at this age, and that’s ok, but we want to show you the bigger team and the bigger picture,” Landin said. “When you hear something like aviation or STEAM, you know that there’s tons of jobs but more importantly that there is a huge community behind all those programs and they want people like you. They want people who are motivated to try something new, who are creative thinkers, and who are ready to tackle problems that don’t have answers yet.”

Aimed at introducing students to the science of flight and the diverse careers in aviation, the Smithsonian’s camp consisted of activities including flight training on simulators, speaking to experts in the commercial airspace and cyber security fields, and STEM-focused design challenges.

“Now it’s your turn today to take what you’ve learned and think about how you’re going to use that knowledge in the future,” Landin said. “You’ve just gained a whole new perspective and I challenge you to continue thinking about the entire aviation family after this. I’m here today because of the efforts of hundreds of people who came before us, and that’s the team and history that you’re joining.”

The aviation-focused experience provided access to low-income students in Northwest Arkansas thanks to a grant from the Walton Family Foundation at the recommendation of Steuart Walton and the DaRin Butz Foundation. The camp was an expansion of the Smithsonian’s “S.H.E. Can” Aviation camp based at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.