Summer Aviation Camp
2017 Camp was held from June 19 – 23 for students entering 6th – 12th grades. A record number of 63 students attended this year, including 16 high school students, and 25 students who have been to camp 2, 3, or 4 years.
Bob Dubar, pilot with SkyWest Airlines; Art Schoen, retired Air Traffic Controller; and Keith Baker, commercial drone operator, spoke to the students about their careers. Purdue University presented details on their Aeronautical Department and made every adult wish they were 18 and could go back to school. We also had the privilege of a visit from 4 pilots from New Philadelphia, OH, who shared their love of aviation and on-going pursuit of finding and restoring Navion aircraft.
This year, the middle school group visited the Challenger Learning Center in Hammond where 1/2 the students attended a “Rockety Lab” and the other half completed a “Rendezvous with a Comet” mission.
High school students toured Grissom Air Museum. These students also were given the ability to sign up for a Discovery Flight through the flight school, enabling them to fly one-on-one, in the left seat, with a flight instructor.
Camp is made possible through the very generous contributions of our sponsors: Braje, Nelson & Janes LLP; General Insurance Services; LaPorte Aero Club; LaPorte Aviation Services; and Woolpert Engineering.
Braje, Nelson & Janes, LLP
General Insurance Services
LaPorte Aero Club
LaPorte Aviation Services
LaPorte Municipal Airport Authority
Aviation Camp 2016
What do you get when you combine 49 6th – 12th grade students, airplanes, drones, rockets, pilots, speakers, and classes? At the LaPorte Municipal Airport in Indiana, you get Aviation Camp.
Three years ago, the idea of a camp to inspire and educate students about aviation was launched as a test program. Within 10 days of handing out a few registration forms in the community, 17 students in 6th – 8th grades were registered. That initial 3-day camp included a flight, a “behind the scenes tour” and classes taught by the Kalamazoo Air Zoo. It was an enormous success, and has now expanded to 5 days, includes both morning and afternoon sessions, and is open to high school students as well as middle school.
The flights are given by local pilots, who spend about 45 minutes with 2 to 3 students at a time, explaining their plane, showing them a pre-flight, answering their questions, and then they’re loaded in, buckled up, and off for a 15 – 20 minute flight. For most students, this is their first flight in a small plane. Without fail, they are all smiles and excitement about their flight and usually consider this the highlight of their camp experience.
Camp has evolved in the 3 years from one class of 17 students, to 4 classes of 49 students. Now, classes are taught by local aviation experts and involve topics such as drones, powered parachutes, aerodynamics, and space exploration. Experts such as a medical helicopter pilot, flight attendant, airline pilot, and Civil Air Patrol volunteer share their experiences. A speaker told about her 30-day race around the world. A pilot who races at Reno came and completely captivated the students with stories of his experiences.
And now, instead of the Kalamazoo Air Zoo coming here, the airport charters buses and brings students and chaperones to the Zoo for a day of tours and more classes.
In addition, a “Community Aviation Night” capped off camp on Friday night. The airport’s apron was full of airplanes and helicopters. Booths were set up from organizations such as the army (who showed up with a Blackhawk), flight school, 99’s, Civil Air Patrol, and more. The highlight of the evening was a presentation by General Dan Cherry, a retired F-4 Phantom pilot who told his story, “My Enemy, My Friend” which involves his 1972 dogfight with a MiG-21 during Vietnam, and his meeting and subsequent friendship with the MiG pilot 36 years later.
One might assume the cost for students to attend camp is expensive. However, through the generosity of private and corporate sponsors, and because the airport board is committed to making this camp affordable to all students, each student pays only $50.
It’s impossible to know how many of these students will become future aviators, but the excitement level is undeniable. Out of the 49 students enrolled this year, 17 were repeat students from prior years. Nearly every student expressed the desire to come back next year. There is already a wait list of a dozen students whose registration forms arrived after camp was full.
Comments received from parents and students include: “my son says this is the best thing he did all summer,” “my daughter didn’t want to come to camp but now wants a career in aviation,” “how old do I have to be to take lessons,” “we were at the edge of our seats listening to General Cherry,” “my dental hygienist told me her son attended your aviation camp – how do I sign my child up” and the best of all “when is adult aviation camp?”
The answer to that last question is still in the works.