If there is one word to characterize Robin Petgrave, it would probably have to be “vision.” Who else would think to name his organization “Tomorrow’s Aeronautical Museum”? Through his day job as founder and chief pilot of Torrance, California-based Celebrity Helicopters, Petgrave reached out to accomplish his further avocation — mentoring and inspiring young people from the mean streets of nearby south Los Angeles and introducing them to the magic of flight. He launched what has become TAM in 1998, and in the 15 years since, he’s watched his efforts bear remarkable success story after success story.
Petgrave’s “Positive Vibrations” initiative started when he wanted to visit inner city schools to speak to students about aviation and success. But speaking wasn’t enough, and so he decided to show them; flying to the schools in his Robinson R44 helicopter and landing on the school grounds. His method attracted attention from a number of politicians, including former Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn, Compton Mayor Eric Perrodin (who offered TAM a site at the Compton Airport), Sheriff Lee Baca and former L.A.P.D. Chief Bernard Parks; as well as corporate sponsors, including Boeing, Northrop Grumman and the L.A. chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Inc.
In the time since its founding, TAM has brought inner city kids out to the airport to earn flying lessons through “sweat equity.” The museum’s mission remains to be: “…a living classroom bringing aviation history to life and empowering the dreams of youth to take flight.” Find out more about TAM at tamuseum.org.
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