Press Announcement

R3-AEROCORE: Taking Flight Leading the FUTURE


The Chief Bearskin Aviation Preparatory Academy is designed and dedicated to developing highly qualified students in Aerospace Flight Training, Aerospace Engineering, and Operations and Security. The academy will employ the best aviation and aerospace STEM practices, utilizing an industry-aligned Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) “You Can Fly” High School Aviation Curriculum education that will provide innovative solutions for our students, the community, and our nation.

Name and why:  The Wyandotte Community chose to develop this project in honor of Chief Leaford Bearskin of Wyandotte, Oklahoma, and the many Native American pilots and aviation personnel who have served this country honorably.

There’s always been a lot of tenacity associated with Chief Bearskin. He entered the Army Air Corps immediately after graduation from high school in 1939, making it a lifetime career. He was sergeant first class stationed at Elmendorf Field, Alaska when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

He applied for pilot training and graduated from Advanced Flying School in January 1943 at Williams Field, Arizona. He qualified to fly one of the great American planes of World War 11, the B‑24 Liberator Heavy Bomber.

Assigned to the 90th Bombardment Group (Heavy), 5th Air Force (the famous “Jolly Rogers”), Bearskin found himself at Port Moresby, New Guinea by May 1943. In all, Bearskin and his crew flew 46 combat missions against the Japanese in New Guinea and other places in the Southwest Pacific. Wewak, along the northern coast of New Guinea, was a favorite target because it maintained several enemy airfields and troop deployments.

Bearskin’s plane was appropriately named “Big Chief.”

Returning to the States in 1944 as captain, Bearskin became a squadron commander and spent seven years in that capacity. Transferred to Europe, he flew 29 missions with the Berlin Airlift in 1948.

Later, as deputy commander of a fighter base in Georgia, he participated in the first flight of jet fighter aircraft across the Pacific. He was assigned to a Squadron Commander’s position during the Korean War.

Chief Bearskin gained many honors during his Air Force career. Included: Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic Pacific Campaign, Medal for Humane Action, Occupation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the Air Force Longevity Service Award (three bronze Oak Leaf Clusters).

Retiring from the Air Force active duty in 1960.

In September 1983, Bearskin was elected Chief of the Wyandotte Nation. He served as Chief for 29 years, until he died in 2012. The new Chief, Bill Friend, said of his predecessor: “His influence has not only been felt by our Nation but throughout the state of Oklahoma and across the United States.

Chief Friend has proven his dedication to the Wyandotte Nation and the Oklahoma community with his support of this program, he continues to follow in the footsteps of the many great leaders within the Wyandotte Nation and across the country.

Accreditation:  Wyandotte Schools has partnered with 2 Tribal colleges – Nebraska Indian Community College and Pawnee Nation college, the tribal colleges have an established consortium with established aviation curriculums.   President Mike Oltrogge of NICC is an avid aviation enthusiast and President Mike Burgess of Pawnee Nation College is working to develop greater opportunities for rural Oklahomans and tribal students. 

Partners:  The Arise Veteran Foundation, 501 C 3, has partnered with tribal colleges and private investment to increase the educational opportunities of Native American Veterans, Veterans, and their families.  Arise follows a Native methodology, WAAR – We Are All Related to support their educational and business development projects.  The goal is to uplift the families of Veterans while providing opportunities. 

Arise has partnered with R3-AEROCORE, LLC, a division of R3-AEROCORP, Inc. to guide the development of the Preparatory Academy with the Wyandotte School district

At R3-AEROCORE, we seek opportunities to serve God, the Nation, and our Communities through our personal and professional lives.

By providing exceptional services to support the growth of airport ecosystems, business parks, mixed-use facilities, and airparks we build communities, educational programs, training, and maintenance facilities that complement and connect industry, strengthening the aviation infrastructure.

We are dedicated to helping create better places to live, provide a living wage, support our veteran community, and inspire new generations of aerospace professionals, delivering cutting-edge aerospace programs.

Scope:  The inaugural year will consist of the pilot project.  During this time, the team will develop the curriculum and deliver the program to Wyandotte students.  This first year will allow the team to plan for the execution of the curriculum to be delivered to all area High School students interested in participating in the program. 

Cost: In the initial year, the program is free to the students.  Arise and R3-AEROCORE will work with Tribal colleges to minimize the cost to the students in the following years.