Earning their wings-- sort of

Future pilots learned the basics during first junior pilot camp
Alex Green
Jun 22, 2014



In 30 years, they'll be flying the airport's World War II aircrafts to centennial celebrations, Liberty Aviation Museum director Jeff Sondles said.

But on Friday, they were still grounded.

Three junior pilots graduated from the Erie-Ottawa International Airport's first-ever junior pilot camp Friday.

Kids called the camp "fun," though airport director Stan Gebhardt said the camp was primarily an educational experience.

"It's a way for the airport to give back," Gebhardt said. "It gives the kids something to dig their teeth into."

They showed off their profound knowledge of aviation and its history Friday during a Jeopardy-styled game. Out of 25 questions, all but one was answered correctly by at least one of the three boys.

They effortlessly answered questions about the plane's rudder, yoke and wings.

"The first three have it tough," Gebhardt said. "But the kids learned a lot."

He said the week-long camp was not all fun and games, although there was some involved.

The kids said they particularly enjoyed the museum's aviation simulator. But the highlight was easily the activities that culminated in — above all else — one prominent achievement.

"We learned how to fly a plane," 11-year-old Ethan Garcia said.

Garcia graduated alongside 13-year-old Tristan Yoh and 9-year-old Mason Gebhardt.

The first session ran from June 16 to June 20, though two more sessions are scheduled for July 14 to July 18, and Aug. 18 to Aug. 22.

It costs $150 that includes lunch and a myriad of flight-related activities. The camp is open to children between the ages of 11 and 16.

Gebhardt said the July class is filling up quickly, and will have well more than three kids. 

Those interested should call (419)-734-6297 or email erieottawainternational@gmail.com.


looking around

Kids hanging on the airport fence has become a thing of the past. Once upon a time kids would ride their bikes out to the airport, become friends with local pilots, mow grass, sweep hangars wash airplanes. Some times they would exchange the work for flying lessons, it was a time honored tradition that has become lost unfortunately. Lifetime friendships were kindled and many a young pilot was mentored into a career that spanned a lifetime. It's good to see someone trying to re-introduce the magic and imagination that flight offers. The real world use and application of the things taught in school as they apply to aviation will also help them to appreciate the things they have been taught. Great program, I hope it continues and grows.