KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A nonprofit is giving children around Knoxville the chance to fly. Tuskegee NEXT will host its annual “Aviation Day” on Saturday, May 14, at Downtown Island Airport in Knoxville.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and it is open ages 8 to 17. During the event, participants will have the chance to take a 30-minute flight, see a drone demonstration, enjoy a flight simulator led by the U.S. Air Force Reserve, and get up-close access to helicopters and vintage military aircraft.

“We want to build a future for our youth in aviation,” said Steve Davis, founder of the Tuskegee NEXT program. “A recent study conducted by Boeing indicates that an additional 800,000 commercial pilots will be needed in the next 20 years. Tuskegee NEXT hopes to fill that need by helping disadvantaged young people build careers in the aviation industry.”

The nonprofit was formed to help at-risk youth explore aviation careers, access education and build life skills. It is named in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of primarily African American military pilots and airmen who fought in World War II. Davis, a Knoxville native and former University of Tennessee football player, founded it seven years ago. He is also is president of GEM Community Development Group, the organization managing private development around the new multi-use stadium project in Knoxville’s Old City.

“I want to help students here in our hometown,” Davis said. “Early exposure to successful role models is key, and these kids should know that they can do more than just dream about being a pilot – we can help turn that into reality.”

Register for the event at Breakfast and lunch will also be provided.