The Youth Aviation Adventure Day on Saturday, April 5 entertained and educated area youth.

The Youth Aviation Adventure Day on Saturday, April 5 entertained and educated area youth.

After a year hiatus, participation numbers for the 6th annual aviation-filled day demonstrated enthusiastic support for its return.

“We’ve got about 125 participants,” event helper Teresa Reich said. “We didn’t get to have it last year, so we’re pleased with that. But we’ll get back on track of having it every year. I think they had as many as 200 participants in years past.”

Though the event began as a program for Boy Scouts, event coordinator Bill Beck said a variety of kids, within a 50-mile radius, now attend.

“The Boy Scouts, if they go through this and take a test with their scoutmaster, earn the Aviation Merit Badge; just by coming here and passing that test. So, it’s a big draw for the Boy Scouts,” Beck said. “It’s expanded now. It’s more of a general youth program, instead of just Boy Scouts, because a lot of kids get excited about it. We try to excite them. We try to bring them into the aviation world.”

Beck said the future of the aviation world is dependent on the smarts, brains and creativity of today’s youth.

“These are the guys and gals that are going to design the new aircraft in the next 50 years. They’re going to be the ones to fly, the ones to work on them and manufacture them, the ones that write the manuals of instruction, the ones that are going to be in management and maybe the ones teaching,” Beck said. “Who knows what they’re going to be doing. They may be doing a thousand different things. They, in the end, benefit the field of aviation.”

The event narrowed the thousands of potential careers into 12 in-depth, topical courses. Each participant attended every class. The instruction-packed afternoon included subjects from pre-flight to aviation weather. SSgt Andrew Rickmers taught the Airfield Operations course.

“I show them air traffic control and how airports work,” SSgt Rickmers said. “They like to see how the airplanes fly around the airport.”

Reich said another featured course, Power Plant, offered excitement.

“It’s where the magic happens. It’s a way to introduce it and everything,” Reich said.

Christopher Jones, a 12-year-old participant, said his favorite class focused on helicopters.

“They told us how big the engine is and how fast they go,” Jones said.

Beck hopes the excitement inspires increased effort in school.

“We hope that after coming to this and given ideas of what it’d be like to be someone out here, they’re going to know they’re going to have to learn something: physics, math, technical information and so forth,” Beck said. “School then will be more important to them. And if we touch enough lives, at least in this area, the area ACT and SAT tests will be bumped up slightly because these kids, if you get them motivated, you won’t have to teach them to study. They’ll want to. They’ll know where they’re going.”

Beck compared the direction of life to that of a pilot.

“These guys that flew in here today, they knew where they were going and knew what they had to do to get here. What if he took off and didn’t know where he was going? Where are you going to end up? You’re going to have a lot of hardship along the way, maybe. You may run into difficulties you don’t know how to handle,” Beck said. “Kids that don’t have a goal or purpose in life go aimlessly and don’t achieve much. If they have a goal, there’s potential for great achievement and that’s what this program can lend itself to in the best way.”

Beck said the aviation program acts a motivator, but direction comes from many sources.

“You’ve got to have direction from God and teachers and mentors and family and friends,” Beck said. “Know where you want to end up and go for it.”