A small group of youth set off from Mesquite on Saturday morning for an aeronautical adventure. They were headed to the fourth annual Girls in Aviation Day at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. The trip for the group of 8 girls and one boy was sponsored by members of the Women’s History and Culture Center (WHCC) in Mesquite.
The local youth varied in ages included students from Virgin Valley Elementary School, Hughes Middle School and Virgin Valley High School. What they all shared was a fascination for aviation.
Girls in Aviation Day is an international event held in locations around the world. But each locale presents it in a unique way. All goes toward exposing youth to the many career paths available surrounding the field of aviation.
Upon arriving at the airport the kids met 15 year-old Aislinn Gacayan who is a membewr of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), a civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force. Gacayan explained that she has been in the CAP since age 12. She said that she aspires to be a pilot one day.
During their visit, the youth saw a demonstration of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Cathleen Perdok, a 25 year helicopter pilot and instructor talked about drone safety and many facts about drones, including careers with drone photography.
The group also met Cathy Stockdale, First Officer on a Beechcraft 1900D, flying Grand Canyon Tours.
“I’m bred from a mechanical engineer, my mother, and a chemical engineer, my father,” Stockdale joked. “Together they made a pilot.”
Stockdale guilt a wind tunnel that she used to demonstrate Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), the science of fluid motion that is sometimes used in aeronautics. The kids had lots of questions, which Stockdale answered enthusiastically.
One of the highlights of the trip was when the kids were able to sit in the cockpit of an Allegiant Air Airbus 319s. The group were walked through a pre-flight routine with crew membewr Tanya, who talked about safety and all the checks that need to take place before take off on each flight.
They got an up-close view of the Allegiant aircraft that was, just a few days before, emblazoned with the logo for the Vegas Golden Knights team.
The group also met and interacted with flight attendants who gave airplane tours and let the kids talk on the P.A. system and sit in their jump seats.
The youth got to meet an airline pilot who gave them a hands-on demonstration in the cockpit of the Airbus. This was among the day’s favorite experience for the youth.
The kids also got to see air traffic controllers demonstrate mapping software. They talked about what a career in that field is like.
Yanelly Partida, a youngster from the Mesquite group was one of 20 selected to enjoy a tour of the airport’s control tower.
“Now I know what I want to work in,” she said after the tour. “I want to try working in the air traffic control center.”
The kids came away with new interests after learning about different aspects of careers in aviation.
WHCC President Jean Watkins, who accompanied the group on the trip, found herselv moved by the whole experience.
“It was partly due to the last resounding group chant made by all the kids present when they shouted: ‘I am the future of aviation!’,” Watkins said. “There is just so much potential for the future in that chant!”
Watkins said that she hopes that many more girls will take an interest in next year’s Girls in Aviation Day. Visit whccnv.org and wai.org for information on this, and other opportunities.