One of ExpressJet’s own mechanics is a real life rocket scientist.
Darius Hooker, A&P technician – Shreveport, participated in the Team America Rocketry Challenge for three years while in high school. To prepare, he took crash courses in physics, trigonometry, software and more. As a junior, he took his new knowledge and designed a rocket that almost landed his team a spot in the finals.
“For a couple of guys who started out not knowing much about rockets, we did pretty decent,” Darius said.
Darius’ senior year, he took his design from the previous year and made some improvements. He knew it was now or never.
“The goal was to build a rocket that could carry two raw eggs 800 feet 43-47 seconds,” Darius explained. “On our last shot, the rocket made it 801 feet in 45 seconds.”
That last shot earned the team a score of 1, placing them in the top 1% of the country and securing their spot at the national competition in D.C.
The national competition was an unforgettable experience. Darius and his teammate, Wesley Carter, raised $15,000 in donations to help them get to D.C. They arrived on a chartered plane and had a car service waiting to meet them at the airport. The boys spent three days touring D.C., speaking with the press and competing in the national competition.
“As the first African American team to qualify, we already felt like winners,” Darius said. “It was a great accomplishment for us.”
Later, when Darius was in A&P school, he received a phone call from the White House. President Obama wanted to meet Darius and Wesley, and invited them to come back to D.C. to participate in the White House Science Fair.
Once again, they received the super star treatment. Lockheed Martin flew them in and took care of all their expenses during the trip. They toured the National Mall, saw the Lincoln Memorial and biked through D.C. to Virginia. Then, on their last day they went to the White House to meet the President.
“He shook our hand three times – I counted! We were the first ones in the room who got to meet him. It was just like talking to a normal person. He asked us all about the competition and what we planned to do in the future.”
Darius now works as an A&P technician at our Shreveport base. His long term goal is to get a degree in aeronautical engineering and management.
“Working at ExpressJet and working on aircraft will definitely give me the upper hand in my classes and my future.”
Pictured: Darius, Wesley and President Obama