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Aviation Advisors:

Melinda Benson, is an instructor at the British International School of Washington, DC. My teaching career started by teaching A-level students in a local college. I then trained as a Teacher of the Deaf, and in BSL,  taking a Masters Level Post-Graduate Diploma in Deaf Education and Audiology at Mary Hare School for the Deaf in Oxford, and worked in a residential deaf school in Leeds, UK.

Melinda is the Education Committee Chairman for the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS), DC Chapter. My main hobby is flying light airplanes and getting young people inspired by the world of flight. I was active in the Build a Plane Club in schools throughout the UK and successfully completed the assembly of over ten  RV kit airplanes.

            I do volunteer work for a charity called Flying for the Disabled.    I am active in the Aerobility Charity, a Chamberley (UK) group promoting disabled aviation that now counts 1000 disabled pilots.


          Melinda participated in: "Girls in Aviation Day" at Manassas airport. Melinda is a Women Pilots 99s- Sugarloaf chapter member, Women in Corporate Aviation International (WIA), the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and the Short Wing Piper Association.

         In the summer of 2018 Melinda was invited, with other teachers, to attend the prestigious Space Camp, NASA Space Academy at Kennedy Space Center, FL where she learned about NASA, space, rockets, astronauts and moon rocks.  Best ways to teach STEM were discussed.

          Co-Director of the "Build a Plane" club with 30 British International School students.    


          Lucia Mencia, (Washington, DC) soloed on April Fool’s Day, 1999 and since then has logged over two thousand (2000) PIC hours. On Nov 20, 2008 she was the first General Aviation pilot to land on the IAD - Dulles International's NEW Fourth Runway, a project that she had worked on as a project manager.

          Lucia worked on MWAA's Aviation Capital Construction Program and Dulles Capital Improvement Program.   She was responsible for management of numerous airport construction projects at DCA and IAD. She worked on the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP).

         Lucia is an architect and president of an aviation-architecture firm,  Aero-Biz Development Group, LLC  which deals with airport construction, fly-in community airparks and airport Project Management. At the annual FAA awards ceremony, on 12/17/21 the FAA recognized the firm on their use of the  Airport Improvements Project in GA   She successfully designed and commissioned through FAA, requirements for new General Aviation airstrips.  

Lucia has developed judicious solutions for GA airports in response to post 9-11 security FAA demands.   

She has managed aviation construction and aviation facilities development projects.

Lucia Mencia is the President of the Washington DC chapter of the Women Pilots - 99s, and is a contributing member of  Aircraft Owners Pilots Association (AOPA), Women in Corporate Aviation International (WCA). She is VP for the Women in Aviation-AOPA Chapter,  the American Association of Airport Executives (AAEA), the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and the Short Wing Piper Association.  She is also a certificated tail-wheel and Sea-plane pilot.  

She loves to fly and restore historic planes.

        She has participated in: "Girls in Aviation Day" at Frederick, MD (FDK) airport, "Pilots and Paws" (abused dogs) relocation rescue missions, "Angel Flights" (Mid-Atlantic) for burned children to Shriners' Hospitals. 

           Lucia Mencia is an active promoter of youth aviation endeavors and has piloted many "Discovery Young Eagles" flights during Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) events.  She is a Board Member of EAA-4 College Park, MD chapter.  Lucia was a  speaker  "career mentor" at the Women In Aviation conference in Orlando, FL.

          Co-Director of the "Build a Plane" club with 30 BIS students.

          In 2016 Lucia participated in the classic Powder Puff Derby, now re-named the Air Race Classic (ARC), an all woman's' National Air Race from Prescott, AZ to Daytona, FL ( 2,700 NM). This transcontinental race was started in 1929 by Amelia Earhart.


GA has enriched a life....

        Lucia Mencia is an active GA pilot, also sea-plane rated. 

She has had adventures in the sea and in the sky, where she is closer to God.  How amazing to appreciate  tiny silver lakes in the midst of tall pines in Seattle;  burning acres in the Everglades; "spiders" of palm trees over Key West;  the autumn change of colors  over Luray, VA;  the smiling face of Lady Liberty in NY harbor;  the buttes of Montana;  Devil's Backbone in Colorado;  the absolute quiet of Denali, AK;  the geometry of Napa wine fields and Monterey CA whale fly-overs.  

          Being a GA pilot has been essential when going to remote locations that required architectural development of fly-in community planning....and boy, has it been a blast!  

Gareth M. Hall,   BIS Student Director is in charge of student development.  His specialty is Design and Technology.  Hailing from Leicester (UK), home of the Fox's and Tigers, he graduated from Manchester Polytechnic with a Degree in Industrial Design.  He earned a Post Graduate certificate in Education (PGCE) in Design Technology. 

           To quote Walt Disney, "Around here, we do not look backwards for very long.  We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we are curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths".

          Although Gareth is not a pilot (yet), his judicious guidance of the high school students has been invaluable.

          He has carefully taught students how to use tools  and concepts of applied physics.  Before this project, some students did not know how to use a wrench, drill or tools of basic restoration.  He has made learning difficult subjects an expected task.  

           Gareth always expects the best out of all of the students and has achieved positive results.   He has taught students how to break down a large project into smaller manageable and achievable tasks.  He applied design technology concepts to airplane restoration.  

          His exemplary calm, kindness, steady hand and good humor  has been critical to the success of this STEM project.       

          ONE sane person in this project is needed.        

          Gareth, we will make a pilot out of you yet !   M&L

© 2017   DC Youth Aviation - Build a Plane, Inc.

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