Meet Lee Giat, a twenty-three year old South Floridian who is gearing up for his first mission to South America later this year.
Lee has been a pilot since 2016. He grew up loving aviation, thanks to his father, Nissan Giat, who was also a pilot.
Tragically, in August of 2020, Nissan died when a twin engine aero commander plane crashed in Pembroke Park.
"I live up in Jacksonville and I immediately came down here and realized my father passed away in a plane crash. And it's really unusual, it's not an everyday way for somebody to die. And it definitely opened my eyes to a lot of the risks involved with aviation," says Giat.
Just three days before the crash, Lee was preparing to surprise his dad with the announcement of his newest project, "Passage". Also known as, "Providing Aid in Science For South America's General Education".
Passage is an ode to Nissan, who used to do missions in the Caribbean.
"I would join him to bring school supplies or hurricane aid relief, food, newspaper, throughout the Caribbean. And that got me thinking, maybe I should start a project to take that to the next level. Because I always loved using aviation, going on adventures, and it really is a challenge and using these challenges to make the world just a little bit better," says Giat.
After his dad's death, Lee had to decide if he would be moving forward with Passage.
"I had to really look down and reflect after my dad's accident and figure out if I was going to drop everything, quit flying, like my friends wanted me to do. Or was I going to keep going, was I going to continue this project that I've been planning and pursue what I already knew was a challenge. Now it's not only an aviation challenge and a logistical challenge but, a personal challenge. And I flew for the first time after the crash, bought an airplane and haven't stopped since," says Giat.
Lee will begin his expedition to South America in December where he'll take off and begin the two month journey.
"I'm going to be stopping over twelve stops. We're hosting STEM outreach events, teacher training events, community festivals, aviation festivals and events to get a lot of people involved and engaged, both educators and students. And the big idea is that I wanted to really embark in a personal aviation challenge. But also, use it to see what kind of power one person has," says Giat.