The Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE) program supports a mission to preserve and enhance the future of flight through world-class events-inspiring and educating people of all ages.  In 2015, SUN ‘n FUN fly-in become one of the fundraisers for the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE).  ACE’s goal is to Engage, Educate, and Accelerate the next generation of Aerospace professionals. To that end, Project: STRATOS offers third and fourth year students the opportunity to interact with the industry’s elite throughout the school year by visiting various aerospace-related organizations, capturing and vlogging their experiences, and being designated as an ACE Ambassador. Each year several dozen students are selected to be part of STRATOS.  “Life is perspective and thanks to the STRATOS program I’ve been able to expand my perspective. I’ve been able to open my mind to opportunities I never thought I’d consider.” -Daniel A. Rocha, STRATOS Recipient.   The best of the STRATOS squadron vie for the opportunity to be chosen as “Flight Lead”,  the person whose academic achievements, community involvement, mentoring, leadership and aerospace goals personifies a Flight Lead.

For the past 9 years, Stallion 51 has chosen from the STRATOS finalists the Flight Lead who will have the honor of flying in the Mustang with Lee Lauderback from SUN ‘n FUN to Stallion’s base of operation at the Kissimmee Airport.  Though one-on-one interviews with each of the six very qualified finalists the difficult decision to choose only one is made.  This years’ Flight Lead is Colby Lee.

Colby has excelled in the ACE program earning his private pilot license, tail wheel endorsement, spin endorsement along with glider rating.  He gives back to the community through the Young Eagles program  as well as the Lakeland Aero Club and is an active member of EAA Chapter 454.  Colby’s is also has a 4.0 GPA as he heads toward graduation this spring.  In fall he will head to Auburn University and the NAVY ROTC program setting his sites on being a Naval aviator like his Grandfather. In honor of his Grandfather, Colby wore his Grandfather’s hat from the USS Coral Sea, VF 111 “Sun Downers” for his flight in the Mustang with Lee Lauderback.

Stallion 51 believes there is hope for our future with young people like Colby and his fellow ACE students.  Bravo Zulu!