By SUSAN SCHELL
The aviation industry is looking for a few good people. And schools in the Pacific Northwest are on the map.
Students from Brookings-Harbor High school and Azalea Middle School were entertained by some high-flying guests last week when the Big World Flight for Education organization visited the Brookings Airport.
Big World was invited to town by the Brookings Flying Club, which coordinated the fly-in with the schools. The flying club is actively involved with the area's youth, sponsoring several events throughout the year, including Airport Day, an annual event which raises funds for its scholarship account.
The club awards scholarships to students who want to take flying lessons.
Warren Glaze, a member of the flying club and scholarship committee, said, "The flying club promotes opportunities for young people to find a career they would not normally have had exposure to."
Five volunteers from Big World provided on-site aviation instruction for three classes over a three-day session. The sophomores and middle school students were broken up into separate groups touring four different stations each day.
One station explored the airplane itself; the preflight inspection, aerodynamics, control surfaces and instrumentation.
Other stations discussed flight planning, airport markings, career options, and "touch and go," communications required for approach and departure procedures.
Big World Vice President and pilot Richard Jones told the students that English is the international language of flying. "You have an advantage over non-English speaking students," he said.
"They have to learn the language as part of their training program; you already know it."
Jones and Stephanie Allen, a pilot and Big World's President, treated the students to a flying demonstration.
Allen hopped in her Cessna Skyhawk and Jones took to the skies in his Beechcraft Bonanza. The two circled the airport twice at different speeds, then met up directly in front of the students.
The visual image and the sound of the planes whirring by added a sense of excitement to the event.
Allen explained that Big World is a nonprofit organization run by volunteers with a common love for aviation and a desire to share their knowledge with others.
"I remember being bored to death in school," she said. "Aviation is extremely stimulating as a hands-on experience. It is also a valuable learning tool, as it integrates science, math, history, and decision making.
"There are many career avenues in the aviation industry for mechanics, pilots and computer technicians, to name a few. They are now designing whole airplanes solely by computer."
Big World has put about 14,000 students through its flight program.
Allen said the school targets grades four to eight because they are usually more focused and less distracted, but Brookings sophomores were invited to the show as a test.
"We found out there is an interest among the older kids, too," she said. "The sophomores did extremely well. Of course, you're not going to interest all of them, but at least you may be able to start a spark with a few. After every program we held a debriefing, and we had a very positive experience with the sophomores."
Allen said the club flies to rural areas because the students are disadvantaged by their remote location.
"They're so isolated, they don't have access to museums and other things they have in the cities. It would be quite an expensive trip to take them there, so we bring the program to them."
The students seemed to appreciate that fact.
"I thought it was pretty cool," student Frank Mowery said about the show. "I'd like to be a pilot; maybe a private pilot, just for fun."
Student Joshua Voight had a more monetary perspective on the matter. "I think I might be interested in being a pilot, I've heard they make a lot of money," he said.
"I want to be financially secure. Plus, I could go to flight school and still go to college."
Tasha Talley enjoyed the hands-on approach the flight program offered.
"I liked the air show part of it," she said. "They (demonstrated) what a pilot really does. They showed us instead of just telling us."