Fly Day Brings Kindergartners to Private Air Show
October 21, 2015
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  • Nearly 600 kindergartners screamed and cheered at their own private airshow at Lee’s Summit Municipal Airport.

    Austen Plain, announcer, took his microphone asking visitors what they thought.

    “I want to go up in an airplane,” said Caliyah Brown, of Kansas City, one of the visitors from Erving Early Learning Center of the Hickman Mills School District.

    The Oct. 16 event included food, t-shirts for each that said Fly Day EELC and climbing into the cockpit of airplanes to pretend they’re cruising through the clouds.

    The event was organized by Austen Dooley Company, with additional sponsors and volunteers.

    Plain, co-owner of the company based in Lee’s Summit, said he’d started organizing such events years ago, in Texas. A pilot he uses his plane to travel to travel between his company’s other locations which include Springfield and St. Louis areas.

    “I just love flying, I’ve been a pilot since I was 20,” Plain said. The event is a team-building exercise for his employees and a way to introduce aviation to the children and inspire dreams, he said.

    Plain said they’ve held the event four years, this being the largest because the Hickman Mills School District this year consolidated teaching of all of its kindergartners at the learning center. Plain said he was introduced to the needs of the center by Connie Brennan, a Hickman Mills teacher who lives in Lee’s Summit.

    She said many of the children come from families with lower income who haven’t had opportunity to fly on commercial airlines or even see an airplane up close. Only in the sky.

    “It rolls right into our curriculum, we’re studying transportation,” Brennan said.

    The KC Flight Formation Team—which is from Lee’s Summit and travels the U.S. — a jet and the Kansas City Police Department brought its helicopter to fly demonstrations for the children gathered as group outside a hangar.

    Inside they divided into small groups go into planes, sit in pilots seats and watched a presentation on aviation. It is the one field trip that the kindergartners will get this year, because the school district cannot afford others, she said.

    “It’s once-in-a-lifetime for many of them,” Brennan said. “Many will never get this chance again.”