Teens take flight in annual ACE academy

The skies in south-central Idaho were a little more crowded than usual Wednesday. And the short-term pilots a little less experienced.

Sixteen youths from throughout Idaho concluded a three-day Aviation Career Exploration (ACE) academy in Boise by flying with volunteer pilots in donated aircraft to several local landing strips. The culminating experience, which wrapped up in Nampa, was the highlight of a camp that introduced teens to the world of flying.

“As always, teens enter the academy with some questions – and a little anxiety,” said ITD’s aviation education coordinator Frank Lester. “Some had never flown in small aircraft before. But by Wednesday’s flights, there was a sense of excitement. They love the chance to fly with veteran pilots and see some Idaho terrain they’ve never seen before.

“We look forward to showing them (the teens) the career opportunities available. Some of them may become pilots, but all of them leave with a better understanding of aviation. It was a great experience, not only for the kids but also for all of the adult volunteers.”

The academy began early Monday morning with a tour of the National Interagency Fire Center located near the Boise Airport. After a presentation by the Civil Air Patrol and lunch at the Division of Aeronautics, students traveled to B.A.R.K.S. (Boise Area Radio Kontrol Society) Field for a demonstration of unmanned (drone) airplanes, a tour of Western Aircraft and a visit to Jetstream Aviation.

Tuesday’s agenda included a walking tour of the Boise Airport and a visit to the Boise tower, a trip to the Lucky Peak Helitac site and tours of the Air Guard and the Jackson Jet Center. They finished with an aviation career forum at the Aeronautics office.

Following the Wednesday morning flights, in which some of the students had a chance to take control the aircraft, they toured the Warhawk Air Museum, Mission Aviation Fellowship’s headquarters in Nampa and a trip to Eagle Simport.

The program finished with a picnic at Phillippi Park where Aeronautics organizers expressed their sincere appreciation to all the students, parents, and volunteers. “This was by far the best group of students we have ever had,” said Tammy Schoen, program co-chair. “Without the incredible support of all the volunteers, this program would have never been successful. We can’t thank them enough,” she concluded.

Published 6-25-2010