Times Bulletin News Writer

VAN WERT - Ryan Todd, a young college student who was born and raised in Van Wert, has been selected as one of six pilots competing for an internship in Cessna's Discover Flying Challenge. Todd greeted people at the Van Wert County Regional Airport on Tuesday to allow his hometown to view his customized Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
"I grew up on Lincoln St. in Van Wert and would see the planes coming in all the time, and I would come out and bug the airport manager but was always too young to fly myself," said Todd. "I then joined the Van Wert Civil Air Patrol here at the airport and did that until I was old enough to do flight lessons. I eventually saved up enough money and started my flight training at the Van Wert Airport. All my flying was done here, and I got my license when I was 17."

Todd is currently a student at Eastern Michigan University where he works at a Cessna Pilot Center. The school has always been very proactive about this internship and made information available to all students. Todd was interested, applied, and was selected to interview for the internship in Wichita, Kansas.

Todd was flown to Kansas where he completed a panel interview and flight interview, and the young pilot found out a couple weeks later that he was one of the few selected for the Discover Flying Challenge.

This unique internship allows these selected aviation students to experience a summer-long excursion across the United States. This year, Cessna partnered with five non-for-profit organizations as part of the summer internship to bring awareness to each organization's charitable efforts across the globe.

"My goals this summer are to get interacted with these partnering groups through social media to bring awareness to their causes as well as to get people interested in flight training," remarked Todd.

The 2013 selected charities include American Red Cross, Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles, Special Olympics, United Way, and Veterans Airlift Command. During their summer flying, pilots will plan to attend scheduled events of these community partners.

All six pilots will also be required to use social media to share their experiences with flight and philanthropy throughout the summer in an effort to engage fellow flight enthusiasts and community partner supporters. At the end of the internship, the charity with the most social engagement will receive a $25,000 donation from Cessna.

The Discover Flying Challenge began this past Saturday at the Strother Field Industrial Park in Winfield, KS. The pilots attended a Cessna 172 fly-in at the field and then left for their respective regions around the U.S.

The pilots are also competing against each other for various prizes by using social media accounts to document their journey. To follow Todd on Facebook, like the Ryan Discover Flying Challenge page. To follow him on Twitter, follow @DFC13Ryan. Todd is hoping to see community members of his hometown in Van Wert to follow and support his flight across the country.