Flabob Airport is the home of the Tom Wathen Center, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to education through aviation. Founder Tom Wathen believes that aviation is a powerful stimulus to learning, especially the vital STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The Tom Wathen Center, beginning in 2000, has offered a growing number of programs of instruction, using aviation to stimulate an interest and competence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with a special emphasis on aeronautics and on developing a sense of civic obligation and leadership. These programs have been offered to students ranging in age from pre-school through post-secondary, emphasizing secondary-school students. The programs of instruction are related so as to build a continuity of learning, starting with simple concepts and progressing through increasingly sophisticated subject matter, all designed to use the fascination of flight to inspire the love of learning for successful careers and satisfying lives.
Aviation fascinates and motivates young people, if only they can get to it. But to most youngsters today an airport is a forbidden place behind security fences, and an airplane is just a big aluminum tube stuffed with tiny seats where a lady asks you for two bucks for a bottle of water.
At Flabob, aviation is up close and personal. Our dozens of programs of instruction provide many ways to turn a casual interest into lifelong learning. Once our youngsters find out that they can actually commit aviation themselves, most of them are hooked, and they are even willing to learn math, physics and history to feed their aviation habit.
Our mission statement: The Tom Wathen Center uses the fascination of flight to inspire the love of learning for successful careers and satisfying lives. We include all people, especially youth, veterans and the disadvantaged and challenged. At our historic Flabob airport, there is excitement in working with the head, the hands and heart, side by side with pilots, craftsman and innovators in an authentic workplace. We preserve and disseminate the history of aviation, and encourage and nourish the designers, builders and innovators of tomorrow.
Our programs of instruction are for life-long learning, career and citizenship, and nourish:
- The head, by involving and encouraging learning and thinking in the diverse fields of knowledge which are used in aviation;
- The hand, by providing hands-on project learning; and
- The heart, by teaching civic obligation and the role of a citizen in a democracy.