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Campers aim for sky at Rowan County Airport

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

Salisbury’s branch of the Experimental Aircraft Association aimed for the skies during its 2015 summer camp.

The fifth annual camp — called A.S.C.E.N.D. — wrapped up on Saturday and included the largest number of students since its start. The 21 participants were taught about various aspect of aircraft, including maintenance and flight, during the weeklong camp. For the first time this year, participants in the camp toured an aircraft control tower. The camp is a primer course for participants to further explore aviation, said the organization’s education coordinator Jana Brown.

“A lot of what’s exciting about this is the kids that continue to return,” Brown said. “People have gone through the program and are going onto colleges now for aviation related degrees. To see them pursuing a career that they didn’t know existed before this camp helps us keep going, and we know we’re making an impact.”

Other parts of the camp included: the language and physics of flight, a flight simulator, creating a flight plan and looking at the weather for a pre-flight check.

On Saturday, during a graduation ceremony, students received a certificate and hat. Mike Collins, an aviation writer, also spoke to the students about his career and described a trip he took around the world.

Collins showed more than 100 pictures taken during his trip, which included a smattering of short jaunts across the globe.

“Airplanes give you such a neat viewpoint of the world,” Collins said during his presentation. “You see things that most people will never get to see.”

The camp sparked a significant aviation interest in some participants. Joseph Schroemer, 15, said he’d like to get his mechanic’s license and work on airplanes.

Some of the camp’s participants weren’t interested in being pilots. Flight planning, airport operation and mechanics were also on the list.

“If we don’t get young people involved in aviation, it won’t continue,” Brown said.

Some of the students discovered flying might not be the best aviation-related career path.

Mayleana Ortiz, a 16-year-old camp participant, joked that she was scared of heights. Aviation runs in Ortiz’s family — her parents work at the Greensboro airport — but she said flying isn’t a future career path.

“I’m fine with looking at (planes) and being around them, but I just don’t want to get in them,” she said.

The Salisbury branch of the Experimental Aircraft Association — Chapter 1083 — is a non-profit organization that hosts the camp once per year. It’s open to 13- to 18-year-olds.

Brown said the camp originated from a brainstorming session, and an effort to get more children to see the Rowan County Airport.

Since the camp started, Brown said some of the participants and members of the millennial generation have begun attending the group’s regular meetings.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246

 

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