PAM flight school graduates ‘earn their wings’

Photos by Brandon Bosworth and Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

Brandon Bosworth

Contributing Writer

The Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s (PAM) “flight school” for girls concluded July 26 with a winging ceremony at the museum’s hangar 79.

Rear Adm. Frank Ponds, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, served as the featured speaker . After being introduced as a “special guest,” Ponds kicked off the event by telling the class, “I’m not the special guest… you are.” Gazing out at the girls awaiting their wings, Ponds said, “I am very proud of America’s history, but when I look at you, I see our future.”

The museum’s “flight school” program is specifically tailored for girls in grades six through eight. The program involves exploring aviation history and flight science over a period of three days through a variety of activities, including learning to “fly” in a flight simulation lab and operating remote controlled aircraft.

“We just started this summer,” said Dr. Shauna Tonkin, director of education at the museum. “There was a lot of interest in the program. Classes were full, and we’re still getting calls from parents wanting to
enroll their kids even though the final session of the summer is over.”

There were four sessions this summer, and about 100 girls completed the program.

The girls-only classes came about as a result of the museum receiving a grant from the Hawaii Women’s Fund. However, a program for boys is being considered. “We would like to start a program for boys, but middle school girls do face unique developmental challenges,” Tonkin said. “This program helps them to discover opportunities in the fields of science and technology.”

To give the girls an idea of the opportunities available to them, the winging ceremony featured many volunteers who came and shared their stories. There were female pilots, mechanics, FAA inspectors and more, both military and civilian.

During the final winging ceremony July 26, Ponds presented each graduate of the program with her wings and a certificate.

“Don’t let anyone tell you your generation isn’t capable of doing great things,” he told the girls. “You have already done great things.”

For more information on the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor’s “flight school” program, call 441-1005 or email

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Category: Life & Leisure