MANATEE — Attendees at an Orlando trade show were impressed when two Manatee High School students opened a breakfast event with a report on a local project that produced a heliport for the county’s Emergency Operations Center.
“I learned you really can use algebra outside of school,” said Cadet Master Sgt. Gabrielle McCoy, 15, of Bradenton, one of the students at the 2015 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo, which took place this past week at the Orange County Convention Center.
About 20 cadets and senior members from the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport Composite Squadron, Florida Wing, attended the expo, according to 1st Lt. Christopher Carroll, public affairs officer for the Civil Air Patrol.
The Civil Air Patrol is a U.S. Air Force civilian auxiliary and a nonprofit organization. The event was among the largest helicopter industry trade shows, attracting more than 20,000 attendees from around the world, Carroll said.
“This project represents something good and innovative, and highlights young people and our future,” said Matt Zuccaro, president and chief executive officer of the association, and a former Civil Air Patrol cadet.
Following the presentation Tuesday, SRQ squadron members toured the expo, viewing the most advanced helicopters on the market, Carroll said.
They also met Chuck Aaron, a legendary Red Bull stunt helicopter pilot, Carroll said.
During the presentation, McCoy and fellow Cadet 2nd Lt. Jonathan Banks outlined the project to produce a Federal Aviation Administration-approved heliport at the county’s Emergency Operations Center at the Manatee County Public Safety Center, 2101 47th Terr. E.
The design, which took more than two years to complete, gave cadets real-world experience, said Carroll.
They evaluated the heliport site using surveying equipment, studied Federal Aviation Administration guidelines and standards, researched and evaluated four surrounding landing zone locations, prepared the heliport design, filed the required documents, and prepared Geographic Information Systems documents, he said.
The Emergency Operations Center coordinates the county’s emergency response in the event of natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding or fires. The heliport will be used in the event of a disaster or emergency.
Last week, aviation officials issued temporary approval of the heliport through July 2016, pending a few stipulations, said Don Hermey, Manatee County’s emergency management chief, on Friday.
“They’ve asked for a few simple things to be done — install a wind sock, a fire extinguisher, and long-term, they’re requesting additional FAA-designed lighting for the location,” said Hermey.
“It is now a designated, private, heli-stop; in the event we need it, it will be used,” he said.