A helicopter landing on 9th street, flight control simulators and pop bottle rockets were among the highlights of the 13th annual Idaho Aviation Festival in Boise (March 10-12). The festival attracted more than 600 people who came to learn about aerospace technology, industry trends and to earn pilot safety certifications.
Some came only to make flying contraptions powered by rubber bands. Saturday’s agenda included hands-on activities for all ages and backgrounds. From the very familiar paper airplane to the lesser-known Goddard Rocket, aspiring astronauts and rocket scientists launched their creations in the main lobby of the Boise Centre on the Grove. Civil Air Patrol cadets and advisers helped with design and construction.
“We’re reaching out to people of all ages,”
said Frank Lester, ITD Division of Aeronautics. “If we can get
the kids interested in aviation at a young age, they’ll be hooked
“We need to change the way we interact with the public,” said Alan Klapmeier, co-founder and CEO of Cirrus Design and featured speaker at the festival’s kick-off luncheon. “We ought to recognize that other people aren’t airplane nuts like us.”
“Aviation has its own language and set of acronyms,” he said, “and making it accessible and easy to understand is the key to involving more people in aviation, licensing more pilots and selling more aircraft.”
The general aviation industry is in a “grow or
die” scenario, Klapmeier told luncheon attendees. “We have
a unique advantage of being important to people, so we just need to
figure out how to grow. If more people would fly, what would that mean
to the industry?”
A panel of presenters included pilots, an air traffic controller, a flight attendant, flight school and military representatives. Together, they offered a real-world look at educational costs and training requirements necessary enter a career in aviation. They also infused the crowd with a sense of excitement and pride they take from their work.
The event closed with a banquet dinner featuring retired Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Edgar. He regaled the crowd with tales of his experiences as an F-117A Stealth Fighter pilot. In 1989, Edgar was assigned to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, presumably to fly the A-7 (a cover for the actual Stealth project).
The assignment led to adventures and experiences that many pilots only dream about. The Stealth Fighter is the world’s first aircraft capable of attacking targets without being detected by enemy radar systems. Although development began in 1978 and it was first flown in 1981, it was not until 1988 that the Stealth’s existence was publicly announced.
(Above) Gov. Dirk Kekmpthorne helped kick off the 13th annual Idaho Aviation Festival at the opening luncheon. Also pictured: (l-r) Alan Klapmeier, Cirrus Design CEO and luncheon speaker; Bob Martin, Division of Aeronautics Administrator; Dave Ekern, ITD Director; and Jared Aicher, Eagle Flight project.
(Top photo) Eli King, 6, gets help from dad Bill in preparing a pop bottle rocket for launch. The festival included hands-on activities for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
(Middle photo) Chaz Hogenauer, 7, learns the finer points of making a paper airplane more aerodynamic from Civil Air Patrol cadet Mark Dunn