CASA GRANDE, Ariz. — In July, four high school students travelled to Oshkosh to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Advanced Air Academy 2013 — a trip funded by an Air Academy Scholarship from COPPERSTATE FLY-IN, Inc.
The 41st annual COPPERSTATE fly-in will take off Oct. 24-26 at the Casa Grande Municipal Airport in Casa Grande, Ariz.
These scholarships are awarded every year to EAA members ages 14-18. Winners join like-minded students from around the world for several days during the world’s largest generalaviation event, EAA AirVenture. Activities include flight experiences, workshops and classroom study.
“The EAA Air Academy teaches young people new skills and instills a pride of craftsmanship,” says Bob Campbell, EAA manager of museum operations and resident education. “More importantly, it develops their leadership potential and broadens their understanding of both aviation and themselves.”
This year’s scholarship recipients are 18-year-old Tyler Traina from Peoria, Ariz.; Rebecca Weinstock, 17, from Mesa, Ariz.; Jacob Jelinek, 17, from Peoria, Ariz; and Cameron Smith, 16, of Scottsdale, Ariz.
Tyler Traina, 18
Traina has loved aviation from a very young age and plans on being a professional pilot. In fact, he recently began attending Arizona State University (ASU), where he’s majoring in Professional Flight.
“Nothing particular brought me to love it, other than the fact that I just enjoy flying,” he says. “My ideal aviation job would be to work for someone famous and fly their corporate jet — or, perhaps something with helicopters doing med-evac ops or Grand Canyon work.”
Traina says being at EAA reaffirmed his passion for aviation. “It was my first air show ever, which was amazing!” he says. “I’ve made so many close friends, and I still talk to a few of them now. I hope to return next year as a staff member to help kids like me find their way in the aviation world, like some of the staff did for me this year.”
Rebecca Weinstock, 17
For Weinstock, airplanes have always been interesting. But, it wasn’t until her junior year of high school that she realized it was a passion.
“A good friend informed me of the East Valley Institute of Technology’s (EVIT) Aviation program, which allows high school juniors and seniors to trade their elective credits to attend one for their career training programs,” she recalls.
In the aviation spectrum course, she was introduced to the fundamentals of aerodynamics, air traffic control, airframe and power plant, ground school, and unmanned aircraft systems.
“After taking these courses, I can’t see myself pursuing a career in anything other than aviation,” she says. “I’m still unaware of which exact path I’ll take, but I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
At AirVenture, Weinstock says she took immediate advantage of the college section and was able to look at many promising aviation programs. She caught a few airshows, including a Pearl Harbor reenactment with pyrotechnics, and a nighttime show with “the best fireworks I’ve ever seen.”
Yet, Weinstock says she enjoyed the Air Academy activities even more. Her classes included composites, aviation technology, woodworking, sheet metal and welding. Weinstock built a wing rib, a spark plug holder, and a fiberglass clipboard.
She also took a few rides during the week — in a Bell 47 and a Cessna SkyCatcher. In the latter aircraft, Weinstock experienced a few G maneuvers, including a zero G.
“It was so much fun!” she says. “I got to stall the airplane and hear an actual horn for the first time.”
She made numerous friendships with other attendees, whom she stays in touch through social media.
“It was also pretty cool to be able to talk to the teachers and counselors about which path in aviation they took and where they decided to go to school,” Weinstock adds.
Weinstock hopes to return next year, either for the EAA sport air camp or as a counselor.
Jacob Jelinek, 17
When he was 8, Jelinek’s interest in aviation was born at Luke Days, an airshow put on by Luke Air Force base in Glendale, Ariz.
“I was awestruck by all the different planes on static display, as well as the ones that were flying,” he recalls. “And, as embarrassing as this is to admit, I remember my mom buying me a little flight suit that I had signed by every pilot or crewman I could find!”
Today, Jelinek is “absolutely” sure he wants to pursue a career in aviation — likely as a pilot. He has earned his private pilot certificate and is working on his A&P mechanic’s certificate. He also plans to attend ASU Polytechnic University as a double-major in Professional Flight and Airline Management. His dream job is to be an international airline pilot for an air carrier or a cargo carrier, such as FedEx or UPS.
“The single greatest thing I gained from the EAA’s Air Academy is a certain interest in aviation,” he says. “I met so many great people — camp staff, fellow campers and AirVenture patrons — that were all somehow involved with aviation. They were the type of people I’d like to spend my life working with. I can say, without hesitation, that my trip to Oshkosh was one of the best weeks of my life.”
Cameron Smith, 16
Smith says attending the EAA Air Academy reinforced a life motto: Give and it will be given back to you.
“Attending the academy opened up my eyes to what experimental aircraft have done and can accomplish,” he explains. “It’s a blessing to know there are people willing to donate and open up doors of opportunity in my life. This experience was a seed for me to grow and help educate others about the wonders of aviation.”
He especially credits academy staff for a wonderful experience. “They related to us in a very comfortable and highly personalized manner,” he says.
Furthermore, the instructors were amazingly intelligent, Smith points out. “Any questions, any time, and they have an answer. And, the projects were way more complex than I can or ever could fathom.”
COPPERSTATE Fly-In, Inc. is a totally volunteer, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting recreational and general aviation through events, scholarships and public education. Proceeds of the COPPERSTATE Fly-In help support scholarship programs for youth seeking careers in the aerospace industry.