Science and technology, especially in the areas of aeronautics and aerospace, naturally excite the curiosities of youth. At a minimum, our after-school programs provide our students with an outlet to explore those curiosities in a cooperative, positive, and safe atmosphere. However, we also provide them with an opportunity to go further if they want.

Consisting of two core program components – Aviation Explorers Post 409 and Fly to Success STEM Academy – the goals of the after-school programs are to:

  • Develop positive youth attitudes toward education
  • Improve academic performance in school by providing academic support in the form of tutoring and homework assistance
  • Improve college readiness (e.g. obtaining high school diploma, improve SAT test-taking skills) by coaching students and introducing them to guest speakers from relevant professional fields
  • Promote parent support of their children’s education by providing opportunities for them to be involved with the program
  • Develop positive character traits and leadership qualities by setting high expectations and through mentoring
  • Provide a viable pathway toward a career in the aviation or aerospace industry through flight and engineering training
  • Instill a lifelong interest in STEM, including electing a STEM major in college


Aviation Explorers Post 409

Aviation Explorers is Post Number 409 of Learning for Life’s Aviation Career Exploring program–one of several career exploration programs where students receive hands-on learning in different career fields and flight lessons in real aircraft with FAA Certified Flight Instructors.

We call students in Post 409 aviation explorers because TAM is a great place to explore the world of aviation and aerospace! With an aviation focus, AE consists of three complementary programs, the Flight Sim Cadet Course, Advanced Ground School, and Youth Leadership Council.

Flight Sim Cadet Course

The Flight Sim Cadet Course offers aviation explorers high quality flight training using Microsoft Flight Simulator in a state-of-the-art computer lab. Under the guidance of a trained pilot, students first learn the basic principles of flying, such as lift, thrust, drag, and Bernoulli’s principle, while learning how to maneuver and read instruments in an airplane.

Through this course, students are immersed in a real-life application of the math and science lessons they learn in school. If they choose to pursue piloting as a profession, the course makes learning to fly more cost-efficient by teaching procedures in the simulator rather than in the cockpit. Once a student progresses from the simulator to actual flying, they will have attained most of the knowledge and skills necessary to take off, fly, and land all by themselves!

Advanced Ground School

The Advanced Ground School (also known as The Sky Team) is available to students who have been through the Flight Sim Cadet Course, demonstrated mastery of the basic principles of flying and have logged a minimum of six hours in the air. This class is best suited to high school students pursuing a career in aviation. Admission is by instructor approval only.

Students log flight time, learn about the specific components and systems of an airplane and how they function, the meaning of airport taxiway lights, air traffic communications, weight and balance calculations, and professionalism in this structured class to prepare them for the Private Pilot Written Exam and a career in aviation.

Fundamentals of Aviation

The High School Fundamentals of Aviation (HSF) is a two-year aviation recreation program made possible with a $60,000 grant from the California Community Foundation’s Preparing Achievers for Tomorrow (PAT) initiative. The goal of the PAT initiative is to improve academic achievement, decision-making skills and self-esteem of youth in South Los Angeles through sports, music and recreation.

Targeting high school students in SPA-6 cities, TAM has partnered with Compton High School and parents to offer 13-week courses to up to 25 students annually from Compton High and other local high schools, providing students with an opportunity to:

  • Explore various careers in aerospace,
  • Learn how an airplane works through flight simulation training as well as flight lessons in a real airplane,
  • Begin or enhance college planning and goal-setting, and
  • Build other social behavior skills, including but not limited to leadership and communication.

As part of our career exploration, students go on field trips to the Griffith Observatory, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other science museums and businesses. TAM engages volunteer professionals from throughout the aviation community to mentor and guide our students. We have had professionals from Boeing, Northrop Grumman, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, the National Weather Service, Torrance Air Traffic Control and the Experimental Aircraft Association. Additionally, we have a close relationship with the Los Angeles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen. These men and women continually inspire and educate our students. They provide guidance and advice to budding aviation enthusiasts.

HSF culminates with student presentations and an awards celebration for their families. Students interesting in staying with our Aviation Explorer Post are encouraged to enroll in TAM’s other afterschool programs, including homework assistance and tutoring. High school students (ages 14-18) living in SPA-6 are encouraged to contact to apply.

Youth Leadership Council

The Youth Leadership Council is a personal development and career exploration program for high-school-aged aviation explorers. The program serves two purposes: To expose students to different career fields in aviation and other STEM industries, and to build positive character traits and leadership qualities necessary to excel  in college and professional careers.

Guided by volunteer adult advisers, the council maintains a cabinet of rotating youth officers responsible for organizing and leading group activities for members. Activities include field trips to aviation and aerospace-related destinations (e.g. science/aviation museums, air shows, Air Force bases, and research and development facilities), guest lectures on topics ranging from aerospace engineering to job interview skills, and fundraisers to raise money for activities.

Fly to Success STEM Academy

Fly to Success (FTS) is an afterschool STEM enrichment program for middle school students with a hands-on experiential, project, and inquiry-based approach to learning. Designed to be fun and engaging, FTS utilizes the X-Plane Fly-to-Learn ( curriculum takes STEM out of the textbook, makes it relevant to students’ interest in aviation, and encourages them to explore their natural curiosity of how the world works. The program is focused on improving STEM literacy and familiarizing students with STEM fields. Fly to Success includes three major activities – enrichment classes, homework help, and field trips.Field trips, scheduled to complement enrichment classes, are usually offered once a month. All students are invited to attend. Some trips may have a small transportation or admission fee.

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