EAA Heartland Chapter 1240 - The Spirit of Aviation

Options & Opportunities

As we stood in front of the hangar with the background sounds of aircraft taking off and landing, the father described his desires for his teenage son.

We chatted about his son finding something he would do in life that would support the adage of “never working a day in your life while doing something you enjoy”. The dad hoped aviation would be the catalyst for his son’s future. We discussed the many different opportunities in aviation today.

I have spent over 40 year of my professional career in education from youth to adults. What has been most enjoyable and rewarding is teaching and guiding high school age youth. Some folks after hearing that, gave me looks like I was crazy and lost a screw or two, but is how I really feel.

Father Son FlightI have seen many things evolve over the years. Family structures have changed and youth are “growing up” faster facing challenges that in many cases they are not fully prepared to handle. The digital world is faster paced and we want everything right way. No waiting for us. Many of us are glued to some screen and interacting with one another in some digital form instead of communicating face to face. It is the “instant gratification” of a text or tweet. There are times that the communication should have required some forethought before responding.

When I taught high school, I was responsible for a curriculum of drafting, aerospace, or woodshop. I was required to develop lesson plans and develop practical and written assessments to measure the student’s success. I felt there was an even more important role I needed to fulfill.  That role was to create an awareness of “Options and Opportunities” for each student. It was important for the student to realize that the skills they developed of knowing the curriculum content was only a part of the “learning”. Working together, solving problems, using hand and power tools, and communicating their ideas verbally or through a sketch or drawing would serve them well in the future. One of the most important things the students had to learn was there was no quick and instant path to completing a project or assignment.  They had to learn how to plan and complete something step by step and it would take some time. This was a challenge for their instant messaging and fast food world. The drafting, aerospace, or shop classes were platforms for the students to continue to explore what might lie ahead for them.

Even though I am retired from teaching high school, I still enjoy creating options and opportunities for our youth through our EAA Chapter 1240 Youth Aviation Education programs and scholarships. The world-wide EAA Young Eagles program has introduced over 2 million youth to a first-hand flight experience. Youth ages 8 to 17 can take a flight with an EAA pilot. Our local EAA Chapter 1240 have flown hundreds of youth and many of them have gone on to study aviation after high school, earn engineering degrees, become pilots or aircraft technicians. Our “alumni” include an airline pilot to an engineering graduate student working with “Space-X” developing systems to re-supply the International Space Station.

Currently we have a Young Eagle graduate Nix Thomas finishing up his required flight training hours for his pilot’s license and two more Young Eagles about to begin their flight training. Will these young adults become professional commercial pilots? That is unknown, but their flight training and experience will give the options and opportunities to pursue many areas of aviation. One has already indicated they would like become an aircraft and powerplant FAA certified technician. Another is considering military aviation, and one now is not sure the path to take. One thing is certain, they have created options and opportunities based on their training and skills gained being involved with the EAA youth aviation programs.

Our EAA programs do not occur in a vacuum. They require volunteer support of EAA pilots and other members. When people attend our monthly breakfasts, buy a ticket or table at our annual dinner, or make a tax deductible monetary donation or donate a specific item; any of these  make our EAA Youth Aviation Education programs possible. Thanks to all who have helped. If you have not yet been involved, what are you waiting for? Come and join in the fun. For more information about EAA contact John Rousch at jhr@stratomail.net or call 863-273-0522

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