How do you create enthusiasm for aviation among youngsters? One way is to take them to KidVenture. During this year’s EAA AirVenture 450 volunteers putting in more than 10,000 volunteer hours significantly raised the awareness of aviation, in particular aircraft maintenance, to thousands of youth between the ages of 4 to 17.
Dan Majka, EAA director and KidVenture chairman, enthusiastically says, “The KidVenture volunteers all believe in the mission of passing the torch to the next generation. If we don’t repopulate the species aviation will become extinct. You never know how your efforts will affect a young person’s life path, and we hope at KidVenture we influence them in a positive way.” Well said Dan!
KidVenture 2011 was sponsored for the second year by United Technologies Corp. and it had three divisions there; Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney Canada, and Hamilton Sundstrand. Many of the 39 exhibits and learning stations provided hands-on opportunities to learn about, build, or repair a variety of aircraft-related items.
Majka explains, “Hamilton Sundstrand provided kits to build a model Ram Air Turbine and more than 2,000 of these small wind generators were assembled by the kids. Pratt & Whitney brought two PT-6 turbine engines and showed kids how to borescope the blades and check safety wires.”
The propeller booth which was supported by Hartzell was a big hit and kids fabricated 1,144 small wooden propellers. The riveting booth, supported by Van’s Aircraft, taught kids how to buck solid rivets, using tools supplied by Avery Tool Company. Those who wanted to learn more were able to work on a real RV-12 kit donated by Van’s. The kids made themselves 1,200 riveted name badges. Majka states the sponsorships were fantastic and explains, “If the kids were among the first 400 to complete the series of tasks they were given tool sets donated by Apex Tools. Hundreds more received tools donated by Ace Hardware, Ford Motor Company, and individuals.”
The kids participating in the Future A&P program were taught many skills typical of the A&P technician. Those completing all of the Future A&P tasks received a Future A&P pin and two hours of official FAA credit toward their A&P license.
Majka followed up by saying, “My best estimate is that 24,000 kids and parents passed through KidVenture during the week.” Congratulations go to Majka and all the volunteers for inspiring one of the next generations of aviation professionals.