BREAKING NEWS! Because of the continued challenges posed by the pandemic, we have decided to shift the 2021 You Can Fly High School Symposium to a virtual event on Tuesday, Nov. 16. Mark your calendar now and bookmark this page for further details.



Nov. 16, 2021 | 6 PM ET / 3 PM PT




If there is anything we have learned over the past couple of years, it’s that even what we consider firm plans are subject to change. Due to the continued challenges posed by the pandemic, we have decided to shift the Symposium to a virtual event this year.

Although we are disappointed that we will not be able to gather in Orlando, we look forward to connecting with you virtually. We are planning an exciting event with a new format, extended content, and numerous “breakout” sessions to match your interests.

Please bookmark this page to learn more about our virtual event and the opportunity to join hundreds of your colleagues for the nation’s most impactful offering of proven ideas, resources, tools, and best practices for incorporating aviation education into STEM programs.

Watch the pre-recorded broadcast of the 2020 Symposium here.

Why Attend?

Aerospace industry projections continue to show that a drastic shortfall of pilots, aerospace engineers, scientists, technologists, and technicians is on the horizon. Also, it is important to recognize that—while COVID has impacted many segments of the aviation industry in the short term—it has not diminished the demand for professionals that will be needed across a wide range of careers!

The AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Symposium continues to be the only event in the nation that specifically targets aviation and aerospace content for high schools—making it a must-attend event for those interested in bringing an aviation STEM program to their schools.

Due to its virtual format, you will be able to experience every session from the comfort of your home, classroom, or office. Even better, the content will be available for a limited time following the live event—which means that you can access it at YOUR convenience!

Please continue to check back for updates regarding the 2021 Symposium, including speakers and content.

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  • Welcome and introductory remarks from AOPA President and CEO Mark Baker
  • The future of aviation and aerospace workforce discussion with FAA Deputy Administrator Bradley Mims and AOPA Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy Jim Coon
  • Special guest appearance by Dierks Bentley, country singer and songwriter, pilot, aircraft owner, and AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Champion
  • A salute to the pioneering teachers who field tested the AOPA Foundation Curriculum
  • A special segment on scholarships just for high school students and teachers
  • Live, interactive segments including audience polls and questions


From High School to the Flight Deck: Airline Cadet Programs

What is the quickest way for a high school student to earn a seat on the flight deck of an airliner? Join representatives from three airline cadet programs—American Airlines Cadet Academy, Southwest Airlines Destination 225°, and United Airlines Aviate Academy—as they discuss their direct pathways from high school to professional pilot careers. Find out what these programs have in common and what makes each program unique. Gain insight into how to help your students land a slot in one of these coveted aviation career programs.

Curriculum Overview

Take an in-depth look at the courses that make up the AOPA Foundation High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. You'll learn directly from the curriculum developers about the topics, hands-on engineering projects, and key learning outcomes embedded in the curriculum. See first-hand how the courses are structured and sequenced to provide rich STEM education and aviation career and technical education experiences that prepare students for careers in piloting, drone operations, and other aviation professions.

Plan, Pitch, and Apply: Starting an Aviation Program

You want to start an aviation program at your high school. But where do you begin? What are the steps to plan for, present, gain approval, and launch a high school aviation program? Our AOPA Foundation high school outreach experts will explore all aspects of aviation program development, from initial vision and mission creation to strategic planning. Learn how to develop local partnerships and navigate through state educational regulations. The team will share best practices for building district and community support for an aviation program and how to pitch your plan to your local school board. The session ends with a review of the AOPA Foundation high school application and initial professional development processes.

Enhancing Your Aviation Program

What does it take to grow a fledgling program into an aviation education powerhouse? This session will follow the journey of the Morris Hills Regional District in Rockaway, NJ, from its humble beginnings at the 2019 STEM Symposium to a multi-school district-wide aviation program. Gain insight into best practices for growing an aviation program from multiple stakeholder groups, including school and district administrators, classroom teachers, industry supporters, and state-level Civil Air Patrol leaders. Meet program graduates who are now pursuing pilot careers in collegiate aviation programs.

Fit to Fly? FAA Medical Certification and High School Students

Do you have to be in perfect health to be a pilot? What are the medical requirements? What if you need medication? Are there any disqualifying medical diagnoses? Help your students navigate their options with the answers to these questions and more. In this session, an AOPA medical certification expert will delve deep into the process of obtaining medical certificates, potential obstacles for high school students, and strategies for overcoming disqualification and seeking special issuance. Topics will include classes of medical certificates, flying limitations and privileges associated with each class, scope of exam for each class, the do's and don'ts of the medical certification process, medical conditions and medications, and tips for obtaining special issuances.

Getting the Most from a Drone Program

Drones are cool. Drones are "in." But how do you make a drone classroom work? In this common-sense, practical session, you'll hear directly from veteran classroom teachers and the AOPA Foundation's resident remote pilot and drone curriculum expert, Michael Hangartner, about topics like drone selection, accessories worth having on hand, drone maintenance, classroom and materials management, and drone lab safety. Learn how to avoid common safety and management pitfalls and ensure that your drone program takes off on day one!

Maximizing the Math and Science

Aviation might not be rocket science, but it is full of math and science. The AOPA Foundation Curriculum is a rich and invaluable resource for teaching aviation to high school students, but beyond the aviation themes, the curriculum is loaded with math and science treasures. While many students abhor traditional math word problems, the desire to fly offers a prime motivation to develop required math and science skills through real-world problem solving. Spend some time with one of AOPA's most experienced Curriculum classroom teachers and his students as they explore and demonstrate the math and science treasures embedded in the curriculum.

Get 'Em Flying: Starting a High School Flying Club

Join Jamie Beckett, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Ambassador for Florida, as he shows you how to start a flying club for high school students. Learn what steps to take, from creating an organization to finding affordable space to obtaining donated tools, equipment, and even aircraft. Hear from students, airport officials, community leaders, and others who have helped launch and grow clubs that give high school students hands-on aviation experiences, from building and repairing aircraft to flying in them.

Beyond the Flight Deck: Exploring Aviation Careers

Would you rather fly a police helicopter or a corporate jet? Do you prefer fixing airplanes rather than flying them? Maybe a job as an air traffic controller is for you. Or perhaps you'd like to manage a bustling airport. There's a lot more to aviation than being a pilot. Discover careers beyond the airline flight deck as you explore a busy general aviation airport.



Sunday, November 14, 2021

  • 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.Symposium Registration Open
  • 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.Exhibit Area Open
  • 5:00 p.m. - ...Networking Hour

*Agenda subject to change.


Monday, November 15, 2021

  • 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
    Symposium Registration Open
  • 7:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
  • Various Times
    Exhibit Area Open
  • 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
    Opening General Session, Breakout Session, and Networking Break(s)
  • 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
    General Session, Breakout Session, and Networking Break(s)
  • 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

*Agenda subject to change.


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

  • 7:00 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
    Symposium Registration Open
  • 7:00 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.
  • Various Times
    Exhibit Area Open
  • 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
    General Session, Breakout Session, and Networking Break(s)
  • 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
  • 1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
    General Session and 2022 Symposium Announcement
  • 2:30 p.m.
    Symposium Ends

*Agenda subject to change.

Hotel Information

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport

9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard
Orlando, FL, 32827

Hotel Registration Now Open

AOPA has reserved a block of rooms at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport (9300 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32827) from November 13 through 17, 2021 at a special group rate. Make your reservations now to guarantee your room rate. 

Please note: The Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport is conveniently located within the Orlando International Airport (MCO). Ground transportation will not be required if you choose to stay at the symposium hotel and fly into MCO.

Hotel Registration


Disney Special Offer

To purchase specially priced Disney Meeting/Convention Theme Park tickets, please call 407-566-5600 or CLICK HERE. Tickets are valid 7 days pre, during, and 7 days post meeting dates. Please note the cut-off date for advanced purchase savings is November 14, 2021.

Walt Disney World. CLICK HERE For Special Ticket Offers

Symposium Registration 

  • Admission Three Days of Activities and SessionsAdmission to the entire symposium and attendance to all education sessions, exhibit area, and networking opportunities. Tours are an additional cost.
  • Networking NetworkingThere are many opportunities to network with your peers from Sunday through Tuesday. Mingle with colleagues at our Monday evening happy hour in the exhibit hall.
  • MealsBreakfast and lunch are included on Monday and Tuesday of the symposium, and a happy hour is included on Monday evening!

Information about pre-conference tours will be available soon.



    Through Sept. 15

    Register Now
  • $300

    Beginning September 15

CANCELLATION POLICY: All cancellations are required to be made in writing for any applicable refund to be processed. No refund will be provided for cancellations received after Friday, October 15, 2021.



Our Lineup of Speakers Includes:

Bradley Mims
Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration

Captain Andrew LaSusa
Manager, Aviate and Pilot Recruiting, United Airlines

Dierks Bentley
Singer, Songwriter, and AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Champion

Jim Coon
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs and Advocacy, AOPA

Jacquie Brown
Senior Medical Certification Specialist, AOPA

Thomas Eaton
Coordinator, High School Initiative, AOPA Foundation

Michael Hangartner
Senior Manager of Curriculum Development, AOPA Foundation

Joseph Konopinski
AOPA Foundation Curriculum Teacher, Morris Hills (NJ) High School

Laura Malbec
AOPA Foundation Curriculum Teacher, Morris Knolls (NJ) High School

Martha Fundora
AOPA Foundation Curriculum Teacher, Morris Knolls (NJ) High School

Dr. Nisha Zoller
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Morris Hills (NJ) Regional District

Dr. Kevin Doyle
District Supervisor of Instruction/Science, Morris Hills (NJ) Regional District

Lt. Col. Michael Castania
New Jersey Wing Director of Aerospace Education, Civil Air Patrol

And more to come.

Mark Baker

President, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Mark R. Baker joined AOPA in 2013 as president and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the world's largest civil aviation organization. A native Minnesotan, Baker earned his pilot certificate in his twenties and has logged more than 10,000 hours of flight time in aircraft ranging from light seaplanes to turbines and helicopters. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Baker has served on numerous corporate boards and has taken leadership roles with several nonprofit organizations. Before his appointment at AOPA, Baker served in numerous senior executive roles, including CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware Stores Corporation, a leading retailer of home improvement and garden products. Baker also served in senior executive roles at Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Gander Mountain Company, and The Home Depot. Earlier in his career, he also worked for HomeBase, Scotty's Home Improvement Centers, and Knox Hardware and Lumber. In conjunction with his role as president and CEO of AOPA, Baker is chairman of AOPA's Political Action Committee; chief executive officer for the AOPA Foundation; president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, representing pilots in 81 countries; and publisher of AOPA Pilot, the world's largest and most influential aviation publication.

Elizabeth Tennyson

Senior Vice President, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
As the Senior Vice President of the AOPA Foundation, Elizabeth leads the Foundation's efforts by championing its safety and educational initiatives. She first joined AOPA in 1998, holding positions that included managing editor of Flight Training magazine, executive editor of AOPA Pilot magazine, vice president of publications, vice president of eMedia, and senior director of communications. Elizabeth serves on the boards of the Aerospace Center for Excellence and the Aviation Accreditation Board International and the Board of Advisors for the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals. A native of California, Elizabeth holds degrees in Broadcast Journalism and International Relations and an MBA. She started flying in 1997 and is an instrument-rated private pilot and a hang glider pilot.

Erik Yates

Director, Curriculum Development ,AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
Erik is the Director of Curriculum Development for the High School Initiative at AOPA. Erik joins the You Can Fly team after 25 years in education as a STEM supervisor, technology curriculum coordinator, teacher trainer, and classroom teacher from elementary school through high school physics. He was the Program Director for the Global Learning nonprofit organization in New Jersey. Erik has inspired his students with aviation-themed lessons while teaching in places as diverse as Tianjin, China; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; and Chatham, New Jersey. A 3,500-hour ATP certificated pilot, Erik earned his private pilot, CFII, and MEII credentials in high school and college before instructing full time and completing his master's degree in Education.

Glenn Ponas

Director, High School Outreach, AOPA Foundation You Can Fly
Glenn Ponas is responsible for providing programmatic, management, and fiscal oversight of the AOPA Foundation's High School initiative, and leading AOPA's effort to expand the implementation of it's Aviation STEM Curriculum. Glenn has thirty-one years of experience as a secondary teacher, administrator, and curriculum development specialist. In 2002, he founded the Pittsburgh Gifted Center Aviation Program, introducing over 3,000 students to aviation. He is an FAA certificated private pilot and remote pilot. In 2005, Glenn co-founded Frameworks Information Technology, Inc., a web-based data visualization and GIS analysis company. He was also an educational data systems consultant to state and federal governments.

Jamie Beckett

AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Ambassador
Jamie Beckett is the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Ambassador for Florida. He is responsible for promoting and growing AOPA's pilot community development programs, including Flying Clubs Initiative, Flight Training Initiative, Rusty Pilots program, and Reimagined Aircraft. Jamie's preferred mode of transportation is a bright yellow and black Reimagined Cessna 152, which he often refers to as his company car. Jamie holds commercial land and sea ratings for airplanes, as well as instrument and multi-engine instructor ratings. An A&P mechanic with a penchant for the classics and a frequent contributor to a wide variety of aviation publications, Jamie's passion for general aviation is truly infectious.

Download Sponsor and Exhibitor Prospectus


COVID-19 Safety

The AOPA Foundation is actively monitoring the incidence of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). We have been asked how COVID-19 may impact the upcoming AOPA Foundation High School STEM Symposium. The AOPA Foundation will meet or exceed all local, state, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements regarding large gatherings and preventing the spread of COVID-19.

At this time, our upcoming AOPA Foundation High School STEM Symposium will take place as planned, in person and virtually. If you are sick or feel you are getting sick, we ask that you please stay home. The CDC recommends that people in high-risk groups consult with their healthcare provider about attending any large gathering. If you decide not to attend in person, we encourage you to attend virtually!



Title Sponsor


General Sponsor

  • Redbird Flight Simulators

    Redbird Flight Simulations of Austin, TX was established in 2006 with the specific purpose of making aviation more accessible by using modern technology and careful engineering. Since its inception, Redbird has delivered innovative, reliable, and high-quality training devices to flight schools, colleges, universities, K-12 schools, and individual pilots around the world. With more than 2,000 devices in service worldwide, Redbird has quickly become the fastest growing and most innovative simulator provider in the industry.

General Sponsor

  • CAU

    California Aeronautical University (CAU) is a world-class training facility connected to Bakersfield International Airport in beautiful Southern California where students live, eat, and breathe aviation. The University offers aviation-related degree programs and training for students seeking careers as professional pilots and aviation business professionals. In this immersive aviation environment, CAU students gain valuable experience you just can’t get from off-airport instruction. Students also benefit from CAU’s growing relationships with industry partners, which can provide a direct pathway to a professional aviation career. Financial aid and scholarships are available to those who qualify. Tour the campus at


Check back often for updates. Exhibitors include, but will not be limited to:

  • Aviation Supplies and Academics, Inc. (ASA)
  • Boeing
  • California Aeronautical University
  • Gleim Aviation
  • Redbird Flight Simulations, Inc.
  • University Aviation Association
  • Unmanned Safety Institute
  • Western Michigan University – College of Aviation