By Dan Linehan
---- — MANKATO — An aerospace and aviation nonprofit announced a challenge Friday in Mankato to recognize Minnesotans who have big dreams and pursue them with skill.
Flanked by 10 Minnesota State University aviation students, AirSpace Minnesota Board President Kristi Wangstad said the winners would be recognized in an April 26 event in St. Paul. Three astronauts, including Buzz Aldrin, will attend to discuss the past and future of space flight and aviation.
AirSpace Minnesota, which formed in 2012 to celebrate the state’s aviation legacy and help students further it, announced the challenge during a conference of the state’s science teachers at the Verizon Wireless Center.
Wangstad said the nonprofit was looking for a place to announce the initiative, called the “Go Boldly Challenge.”
“And we thought, what better place than in front of you,” she told a crowd of more than 150 teachers.
The challenge is looking for nominees who have “achieved something extraordinary related to aviation or aerospace.” There are five age groups: elementary, middle school, high school, college and adult.
To nominate someone, visit www.airspacemn.org.
Cheri Rohlfing, a Delta pilot and adjunct instructor at MSU, said the nonprofit has drawn on Mankato students as interns. Mankato students will be asked to help out at the April 26 event, too. The university is the only one in the state to offer a four-year aviation degree.
Donald Piccard, an 88-year-old hot-air balloon pioneer and AirSpace board member, had planned to drive to Mankato from the Twin Cities but was foiled by bad weather, Wangstad said. The name of the challenge is an explicit reference to the Star Trek mission to “boldly go.”
Jean-Luc Picard of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was named after the Swiss scientists Auguste Piccard and Jean Felix Piccard, who is Donald Piccard’s father.