Located at Pioneer Airport, KidVenture is a wonderful place for children to spend the day or the entire week learning about all things aviation. Toddlers can cruise around the pedal-plane corral, and bigger kids can take the pre-flight challenge and receive their first logbook. They get the chance to build model rockets and balsa planes, fly in a flight simulator, fly a control-line model airplane, or practice to be an air traffic controller. A total of 25,000 kids were expected to attend the free KidVenture during the weeklong EAA AirVenture gathering and it takes the dedication of 400 volunteers to run this event specifically designed to expose children to hands-on aviation activities.
The best of all was the “Future Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Technician” activity. The EAA in partnership with the FAA developed an actual course where kids accomplishing hands-on maintenance and fabrication tasks, learn a few skills necessary to become an aircraft technician. Kids participated in a series of technical training activities in five areas: airframe riveting, wooden rib construction, powerplant, propeller, and hydraulic/electric. At the successful completion of the course each student was given a certificate from the FAA granting them two hours of credit toward their A&P certificate, along with a really great looking pin that says, “Future A&P.” How cool is that!
According to EAA Director Dan Majka, “The purpose of KidVenture is to excite kids and expose them to the type of things like using wrenches that we were exposed to.” Majka went on to share, “Where would kids go to learn to drive a rivet today — maybe grandpa.”
He went on to explain that most kids attending KidVenture have some connection to aviation or are part of aviation families. Many are already excited, motivated, and may have been around airplanes with family members. KidVenture provides a venue for these children to do more, to actually use their hands, to install parts, or to learn about wheels and brakes. Majka says, “The Future Airframe and Powerplant Maintenance Technician program at KidVenture offers these aspiring A&P mechanics an opportunity to build their confidence.”
I watched as one young lad installed a cylinder on an A-65 Continental training engine, and a young girl proudly carving a block of wood into the shape of a propeller. If you wonder how we might repopulate the species of A&P mechanics, well EAA KidVenture appears to be a great start for many. AMT