Students explore flight at aviation camp
SALISBURY — While other kids head for the beach, the mountains or their own backyards, students at one summer camp are aiming for the sky.
They’re participating in A.S.C.E.N.D. (Aviation Summer Camp Exploring New Dimensions) this week at the EAA chapter 1083 hangar at the Rowan County Airport.
Jana Brown, educational coordinator for EAA Chapter 1083, said there are 14 children ages 13-18 from both inside and outside Rowan County participating this year.
This is the day camp’s third year, Brown said.
“Eight out of the 23 students we’ve had are either getting their pilot’s license or going into another aviation career,” Brown said.
Ty Norberg, a rising 10th grader at North Rowan High School, wants to be another one.
He said he wants to be a fighter pilot, and then maybe a commercial pilot after he leaves the military.
Ty said Tuesday that his favorite part so far has been seeing different kinds of aircraft up close. The students have toured a charter jet, a small airplane and an N.C. Highway Patrol helicopter.
“It’s a good opportunity to get close to airplanes, learn how to use them and how to fly,” he said.
Like most of the students, Ty said he’s most looking forward to hitting the skies on Saturday.
Participants in the camp will get the chance to fly for free with area volunteer pilots on Saturday. The first flights are part of EAA Oshkosh’s “Young Eagle Program.”
Each day, students at the camp are learning about different aspects of aviation, including the types of airplanes and their parts, flight controls, instruments and gauges, air traffic patterns and how planes fly.
Many of the lessons include hands-on activities like building gliders with pieces of paper and paper clips.
On Tuesday, participants learned how to cover an airplane tail piece with fabric - a type of covering used mostly on older planes.
Jack Neubacher, president of EAA Chapter 1083, said the fabric is painted and attached to the airplane with a special kind of glue. It is then stitched onto the ribs to keep the cover from lifting up during flight.
“The kids like it. It’s kind of old fashioned, and they really get into the process,” Neubacher said.
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Twins Hunter and Hope Smith, both rising 8th graders at Southeast Middle School, said they found out about the camp through their stepmother, who is in the Air Force.
Hunter said he now knows how to say his name using the phonetic alphabet for aviation — Hotel, Uniform, November, Tango, Echo, Romeo.
“I didn’t know that until I came here,” he said. “It’s been a good experience so far.”
Hunter said he’s interested in flying and would like to be a pilot someday. He said he’s most looking forward to getting to fly on Saturday.
“I’m kind of nervous but kind of excited, too,” he said.
Hope said she’s never been on an airplane before, so it’s nice to learn about them before flying on one.
“At first, I was worried about the plane crashing, but I learned it’s kind of going to be hard for that to happen,” Hope said.
On Tuesday, the students learned about the four forces of flight — weight, lift, drag and thrust — and how planes stay in the air.
Today, they plan to take a field trip to Guilford Technical Community College and TIMCO Aviation Services. Then they will get the chance to participate in a flight simulator on Friday.
The camp is funded with the help of a grant from the Taco Bell “Graduate to Go” Foundation.
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Several past campers have come back to A.S.C.E.N.D. to help lead as interns.
One of them is Delante’ Sykes, a rising ninth-grader from Gastonia.
Delante’ said he plans on serving in the Air Force, and then flying for an airline. So far, he has logged 15 hours of flight time toward his license and is waiting to start solo flights next year when he turns 16.
At the camp, Delante’ guides the students through activities and tells them about his own experiences.
“It feels good to help them,” he said. “I want to give back to the program what they gave to me.”
Also returning to the camp is Zahra Khan, who attended as a student two years ago and is serving her second year as an intern.
“The A.S.C.E.N.D. camp really got me into aviation,” she said. “Now I have my pilot’s license and I’m going to aviation school. I want everybody to have the same opportunity.”
Zahra, who just graduated from Jesse C. Carson High School, will be attending Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida this fall.
She said she wants to let more kids know how they can explore their interest in aviation.
“So many kids say, ‘It’s so cool what you do. ... How did you do that?’ ” she said. “If no one is ever exposed to it, how would they ever know?”
For more information about A.S.C.E.N.D., visit www.aviationsummercamp.net, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Jana Brown at 336-752-2574.