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The Mighty Men of Bethel AME hosted the fifth annual “Come Fly with Me” Paper Airplane Contest Project

By Mr. Buddy Gibson

Oxnard, CA — The Mighty Men of Bethel AME Church hosted the fifth annual “Come Fly with Me” Paper Airplane Contest (PAC). This year’s theme was “If We Believe It, Then We Can Achieve It”. Fifteen young men participated in three class groups: Class A (ages 9-12); Class B (ages 13-15); and Class C (ages 16-19).

The first event was a red carpet field trip to the Camarillo Aviation Air Museum on January 18, 2014, for a morning tour of airplanes and lectures by museum volunteer staff. It was followed by a luncheon for the PAC Cadets at Café Amri, in Oxnard.

The second event was a workshop and paper airplane contest held at the Juan Soria Elementary School Gymnasium in Oxnard, on February 15, 2014. The program featured three guest speakers. Bruce Stewart’s topic was “Heroes and History of the Red Tail Pilots of the Tuskegee Airmen”. Albert Duff, Jr.’s topic was “Come Fly with Me” and Vincent Stewart’s topic was “The Way to Become a Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy and Its Rewards”. The highlight of the day was the paper airplane contest itself. The PAC Cadets competed in three categories: flight distance, acrobatic flight and airplane design. On display at the event was an exhibit of contemporary and World War II African American “H.E.R.O.S.” figurines by Lawrence Lee. Buddy Gibson and Lawrence Lee had model airplanes on display as well.

The third event was the PAC Grand Awards Ceremony and Banquet held for all the winners that placed first, second and third in each of their classes on March 16, 2014, at Bethel AME Church, in Oxnard. Lee and Gibson provided a display of “H.E.R.O.E.S” figurines and model airplanes. The program featured two guest speakers: Dr. Eugene Fussell, renowned Ventura County Orthopedic Surgeon and Retired United States Navy Admiral, and Junior Air Force ROTC Cadet Nicholas Twine, Pilot Trainee and Oxnard High School sophomore. Dr. Fussell’s topic was “History of Heroes and What It Takes to be an Achiever”. Twine’s topic was “What it Takes to Stay with Your Dream and Achieve It”. After the speeches, a luncheon was catered by Nawlinz Bistro Restaurant, located in Oxnard.

After lunch, the Grand Awards were presented. The young men sat straight up in their chairs waiting for the big moment for the announcing of the winners. The Class A PAC Cadet winners were: Darren Holland, first place; Andrew Cornish, second place; and Giovanni Scott, 3rd place. The Class B PAC Cadet winners were: Amos Scott, first place; and Kameron Camerena, second place. The Class C PAC Cadet winners were: Albert Duff, III, first place; Jordan Gibson, second place; and Ruben France, third place. All winners received trophies, medals, ribbons and certificates. The first place winners received their PAC star and a PAC Cadet hat. A cake was then cut and served.

“I would like to thank my Bethel family male mentors and guest mentors,” said Gibson. “This year’s PAC project was a big success. The young men received so much from all of you and will never forget what you all have taught them through teamwork.”

Gibson continued, “You showed them about the flight of paper aerodynamics, history lessons, cultural awareness self-expression and creative designs of the fine arts of paper aircraft. A special thanks to our Master of Ceremonies, Marvin McKenzie, for an outstanding job.”

Gibson finished with giving appreciation to the people who helped make the event a success. “I would also like to thank our Golden Sponsors: Bethel AME Church, Rev. Robert L. Cox, Bethel family, Maria G. Brown, Bruce Stewart, Crittenden Ward, The Auto Doctor-Don Cook, Albert Duff, Sr., The Collegiate Global Assistance Foundation — Dexter L. Nunnery, Dr. Bruce Olsen, the Tri-County Sentry, Wallace Daley, Monday Night Football Group — John Hill, California Peace Officers Association –Brad Gibson, Café Amri, Tomas Café, Garcia Mortuary, Nawlinz Bistro Cuisine, Ronald Greenwood, Jerry Gaston, Bob Adams, Freddie Webb, Leroy Gibson, Jr. and Dwight Blackledge.

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