Jesse Hayes IV, SPEEA member and Boeing engineer, is shown here with Trey Cooper, on a break during Flight Lessons
for Youth (FLY) offered by the Red-Tailed Hawks Flying Club. Cooper, 16, is a student at Kent-Meridian High School who
practiced more than a dozen takeoffs and landings in a Cessna 152.
Flying Club gives
‘lift and thrust’ to
The Red-Tailed Hawks Flying Club meets monthly to introduce aspects of flying to young people who are at
least 11 years old. Each meeting includes
• Aviation history - “We want them
to know more about the shoulders of
the folks we’re riding on,” said Jesse
Hayes IV, “and get them (students)
• Pilot knowledge - “No matter what
their career choice, pilot knowledge
will make them better,” he said. “It
takes a broad spectrum to operate a
The club is chartered by the Black Pilots of
America, Inc. (BPA), and all are welcome.
The mission is focused on minorities because
of their strikingly low demographics in avia-
“One of the reasons the numbers are so low,”
said Hayes, a SPEEA member and club president, “is because of the black community.
Many are still conditioned to think (flying)
is only for white folks or rich folks - anybody
but me.” The club’s annual dues are $20 per
student. At the meetings, they fly the students and the club also offers free ‘discovery
flights’ five times a year.
The club also holds a two-week free summer program called Flight Lessons for Youth
(FLY) each year at Regal Air, a flight school at
Everett’s Paine Field. Students applied (with
letters of recommendation and an essay) and
eight were selected for this year’s program.
They spend 10 hours on flight training, 40
hours on ground school and 10 hours on
earth and space sciences with an instructor
“Those who do well get the opportunity to
fly solo,” Hayes said. “Top students can get
scholarships to continue training to become
The club introduces students to more than
the cockpit. Their meeting locations vary
from touring Boeing’s Everett factory, the
Museum of Flight, Blue Origin, and Puget
Sound military bases (Air Force and Navy),
The club draws adults who are “pilots,
engineers, technicians, educators, enthusiasts
and parents,” Hayes said. About 30 student
members attend each monthly meeting. “We
are the largest chapter in BPA.”
Find out more at www.facebook.com/red-tailedhawksBPA.
Black Pilots of America chapter
President of flying club
takes STEM outreach to a
EVERETT – When Jesse Hayes’ family went on vacation, he didn’t climb into the back of a car. He climbed into the back
of an airplane.
He was about five years old in 1968 when his
father bought a Mooney aircraft to take his
family on trips - bypassing the whites-only
restaurants, gas stations and hotels.
“That was one of his motivations for flying,”
said Hayes, a SPEEA member, about his father,
a flight surgeon with the Air Force. “Black folks
never took a road trip without packing enough to
get where they were going. There were no expectations they would find a restaurant to stop.”
Hayes is founder and president of the Red-Tailed
Hawks, a flying club for youth outreach based in
Mukilteo, Wash., with a mission of introducing
underrepresented youth to the world of aviation. The club is a chapter of the Black Pilots
of America, Inc. (BPA), a 501(c)( 3) tax-exempt
“I grew up blessed by BPA, I want to pay it
forward,” he said. “When I look around the
industry and see the disparity in demographics
- that motivated me to do all I can to make a
Women are only 6% of the pilots in the U.S.
and, according to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc., less
than 2% of the nation’s pilots are black.
At Boeing Everett, Hayes is a lead airplane safety
engineer for airplane development. His Boeing
career includes working on the KC-46A Tanker,
a derivative of the 767. He also took the initial
lead on the Presidential Aircraft Recapitalization
Hayes joined the Air Force because of the Iran
hostage crisis that started in 1979. “I thought I
was going to join a fight against Iran,” he said.
“What I really ended up doing was painting the
floor of a hangar,” he said. He pursued officer
training to see more ‘action’ and ended up painting the walls of the squadron, while at flight
training. “We were a base full of lieutenants,” he
quipped. He also worked as an Air Force navigator for the C-130 cargo aircraft, then chief of wing
flight safety, a war planner and finally assistant
operations officer for a combat rescue unit.
After the military, he taught high school physics
and worked for several contractors, including
Lockheed Martin prior to working at Boeing
Space Exploration in Houston.
In Texas, he re-certified as a pilot (“I got tired
of talking about what I used to do”) and joined
the Bronze Eagles Flying Club, affiliated with
BPA, which focuses on youth outreach for the
underserved and underrepresented.
He brought the idea with him to start a local
BPA chapter when he transferred to Everett. “My
sole motivation was to inspire kids to fly. When
Boeing moved me here, I brought BPA with me.”