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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives

John Barry

President & CEO

Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum

Location: Denver, CO

Founded: 1994

Industry: Museum

** Hall of Fame **

John Barry is president and CEO of Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum.

Wings has established a unique educational focus for aviation and space. Its pathways program provides students options to learn and grow in aerospace fields. The first pathway is to be a pilot. Wings provides a free flight for students 8–18 years old and free online ground school, worth $275. If students pass the course and at 15 years old, pass the FAA pilot written exam, they are eligible for a $12,000 scholarship to learn to fly and get their pilot’s license. They can fly solo at 16 years old and get their license at 17 years old.

Wings has a similar program for students to get a license to fly drones. Wings provides opportunities to fly, program and fix drones and to compete using drones in “Drone Soccer,” a nationally recognized competition. If students complete all these activities and pass an FAA written exam, at 16 years old, they can get their “Part 107” drone license, allowing them to be hired to fly drones for a fee at weddings, outdoor sports events and construction sites.

The third pathway is for students to get their aircraft maintenance license. Wings provides classroom instruction in general education, college-level courses to high school students. Students in these classes are afforded the opportunity to build a real aircraft. Wings finished the first RV-12 aircraft in March 2022, after three years, with students building more than 80% of the aircraft.

“What better way to learn to be an aircraft mechanic than to build one,” Barry said. “Students at Wings are now building a second RV12.”

Before taking over his leadership role at Wings, Barry worked as superintendent of schools in Aurora, Colorado, and served in the U.S. Air Force (USAF), rising from fighter pilot to major general over the course of 30 years.

“A legacy should be something that will benefit people long after they are gone, whether it’s a charitable donation, an artwork that brings people joy, a collection of inspiring writings, or a project or organization that serves a greater good,” Barry said. “Ultimately, a legacy should be something that a person can be proud of and that will carry on a beneficial message to those around them.

“I trust my legacy will be one of service, where I was able to help defend our nation as a fighter pilot in the USAF, rising to the rank of major general, for over 30 years; to serve our students as a superintendent of schools in Aurora, Colorado, for seven years; to lead an organization serving children with high socio/economic challenges, as a CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs, Denver Metro; and finally, as CEO of Wings Over the Rockies, where we provide students with the art of the possible regarding aviation and space.”

Presented by:

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“I trust my legacy will be one of service, where I was able to help .”


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