Dunbar Middle student takes STEM skills to new heights as airplane pilot

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Preschoolers in Lehigh Acres are learning about space exploration from one local pilot. The kids all have smiles on their faces. But you may be surprised that Autumn Rhodes is flying planes when you hear her age.

Taking off and ready to soar to new heights.

“It’s this machine that you’re going up in the air with and it might fall,” Rhodes said. “Flying a plane is a lot of work and it’s scary.”

At the controls is Rhodes, also known as “Pepper,” who is 14-years-old.

Rhodes said her aviation dreams took off at age 10 through the EAA Young Eagles Program. It is all thanks to mentors like Bob Dicello.

“I’d first like to go to the United States Air Force Academy,” Rhodes said. “My dream is to eventually pilot a mission mars.

“I’m donating my time to help her reach her dreams,” Dicello said. “It’s a thrill for me to know that I’m gonna be a very small part of one of the first women astronauts to land on Mars.”

The Dunbar Middle School student credits science, technology, engineering and math with landing her in the pilot’s seat. She uses science and math to for calculations in her flight.

It is that shared love of STEM and flying that Rhodes shares with younger minds as a ‘Back to Space’ ambassador. It has landed her a spot on our ‘Inspiring People‘ segment as she encourages others to reach for the stars and beyond.

“I’m really dedicated to what I want to do and where I want to go in life,” Rhodes said. “You have to work for it.”

The EAA Young Eales program providing opportunities for people ages 8 to 17 interested in aviation is
available at youngeagles.org

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