Learning Aviation
June 10, 2015
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  • Twelve-year-old Averie Hoffarth isn’t afraid to experiment and is interested in engineering.

    That’s why she thought to cut vents into her model of a hot air balloon on Monday during the Passport Aviation Camp Experience at the Dakota Air Territory Museum in Minot. That innovation made Averie’s hot air balloon work better than those of some of the other kids, said Connor Banister, 11.

    “I just like to learn how things work,” said Averie, one of dozens of 9 to 12-year-olds enrolled in the week-long College for Kids aviation camp.

    Michelle Saari, who holds a private pilot’s license and is one of the camp directors, said children are doing lots of hands-on activities to learn about such things as weather and navigation, the science of flight, the history of aviation, careers in aviation, and the honor and courage of aviators. Teachers include Saari and Melessa Bosch. Mentors include other teachers and pilots.

    On Monday, kids made their own hot air balloons out of bags and straws. On Tuesday during the camp, they were studying the four forces of flight: lift, thrust, weight and drag. As Connor explained, lift is what keeps a plane in the air and weight is what drags down the lift. Thrust, like an engine, propels an aircraft into motion. Drag is the opposite of motion and is caused by friction and differences in air pressure. At one station, a group of kids dropped weighted paper airplanes from a stairway in the air museum to learn about the effect of weight.

    Saari said the program is possible thanks to the cooperation of the Dakota Territory Air Museum and to a grant. The antique aircraft at the museum are a great backdrop as the kids learn about past aviation heroes, said Saari.
    Saari said another class, the Aviation Camp Experience, was offered earlier to younger children.

    The 9 to 12-year-olds in the PACE class will also have an opportunity to fly in an aircraft after the week is over. Each student has a journal that must be stamped all five days of the camp to earn the chance to fly at a later date.