Heartland Aeronautical Experience: Mobile aerospace classroom seeks funding

Vicky O. Misa
A second-hand trailer has been acquired, but now needs to be customized for use as a mobile classroom.

A group of individuals with their heads in the clouds have joined forces to propel aviation education to a whole new level, so many more can share the view.

Perhaps what’s more extraordinary is that their new endeavor –– though mobile –– won’t sport wings at all.

“The mission of Heartland Aerospace Experience Inc. (HAE), is to oversee the funding, design, construction and management of a mobile air traffic control tower trailer classroom for the purpose of educating and motivating youth toward aviation career opportunities,” Bill Beck, president of the board of directors of HAE, said.

Several years ago the group decided to put their dream into action after reports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) showed that it has been especially unsuccessful in the recruitment of women and minorities.

Beck said the mobile classroom can easily reach minorities, women and handicapped individuals who are traditionally under-represented in the aviation field, since it will be available to everyone in many various ways in different venues.

“We believe that this is a creative and positive approach for introducing our targeted populations to the wonderful world of aviation. Hopefully this also will interest younger students to pursue the STEM educational studies,” Beck said.

The plan is to use the trailer as a year-round instructional classroom for elementary through 12th-grade, public or private schools, colleges, corporations, trade shows, malls, fairs, air shows, conventions or any other locations of request.

On a related note, HAE now has a small museum on display at Shawnee Regional Airport that draws attention to the field — if only on a small scale.

But to reach full realization of the project, the nonprofit has to raise enough funding to complete its classroom on wheels.

HAE is looking for $1.5 million from corporate industries and private individuals for the constructing, operating, scheduling and managing of the mobile museum exhibit trailers.

“Each mobile museum exhibit has the potential of reaching over 50,000 individuals each year,” Beck said.

Donations are welcomed and can be made at First United Bank in Shawnee.

Beck said once funds are in-hand, it will likely take about four to six months to build the trailer. Eventually HAE hopes to have multiple trailers in operation.

Trailer specs

HAE's vision of the Mobile Hot Air Balloons to Rockets Aerospace Career Museum Exhibit is to include a custom designed double-wide expandable 53-foot trailer, offering 1,100 square feet of numerous high-tech, hands-on learning exhibits that are designed to engage visitors of all ages in the numerous aerospace career opportunities available to them. The mobile aerospace museum is planned to have a virtual reality air traffic control tower replica, flight simulators, cut-away models, 3-D holograms, touch screen kiosks and more.

For more information call (405) 964-6888, email hae.aerospace.careers@gmail.com or visit heartlandaeronauticalexperience.org.

HAE is a not-for-profit corporation.

Aerospace careers include:

• Airframe and power plant maintenance technicians

• Computer programmers

• Legal advisors

• Financial advisors

• Air traffic controllers

• Administrative executives

• Photographers

• Accountants

• Tech writers

• Cabin crews

• Scientists

• Pilots

Check it out

To help fund the project, make a donation payable to Heartland Aeronautical Experience, Inc., and mail it to First United Bank, P.O. Box 1209, Shawnee, OK, 74802.