“We have discovered over the years that you have to prepare the future,” says Dan Majka, chairman of EAA KidVenture.
And prepare them they do — “they” being a small army of volunteers who run KidVenture, a mini-kid-friendly AirVenture held at Pioneer Airport next to the EAA museum during this summer’s AirVenture.
Majka notes that although adults may enjoy wandering down row after row of homebuilt aircraft and through the aisles of exhibit hangars during the big show, it can get tedious for the younger crowd. That’s why KidVenture, which is full of activities for children that encourage and foster an interest in aviation, was created.
The campus was a buzz of activity. Outdoors, kids were playing with “stomp rockets,” stomping on empty plastic two-liter bottles and using the blasts of air to launch model rockets, and with radio-controlled model airplanes under the watchful eyes of adult volunteers. Inside the hangars and tents, there were ground lessons, as well as an abundance of aviation-related crafts.
The hands-on activities were especially popular, Majka notes.
Hartzell Propellers, one of the KidVenture sponsors, provided pieces of aspen for the kids to make miniature propellers. “Then the kids collect autographs from famous aviation dignitaries on them,” Majka says. “It is one of the hottest items on campus.”
Another popular item was a riveted name tag.
“The kids make them,” he says. “They are exclusive to AirVenture. We’ve had adults asking about them, but you can’t buy them.”
For older kids, there was a station where they could use a computer to design an air racer and run a simulated pylon course. The designers pitted their projects against each other on the virtual course.
Other activities included the design and construction of balsa wood airplanes. The field was filled with kids who were trying to get the most distance out of their creations.
When they got hungry, Red Baron Pizza, another sponsor of the event, provided lunch.
KidVenture could not have happened without the volunteers, Majka stresses, noting that local EAA chapter members helped facilitate the event, including a very popular scrap booking area that was supported by camera-maker Canon U.S.A.
There also was a great flight instructor presence at KidVenture.
“We have stations run by 10 NAFI flight instructors where kids can learn about air traffic control, navigation and do a curriculum, which is about 30 minutes at each station,” Majka says. “They also can learn to preflight an airplane. For that we have an RV6 that is a Young Eagles airplane.
“Some of the kids are better at it than their parents!”
Each child was issued a logbook. The CFI at each station signed off on the logbooks for instruction received.
“It counts toward their private pilots license,” says Majka.
In addition to activities, the kids had the opportunity to hear from some of the more famous and influential people in the aviation world, such as Dick Rutan, Chuck Yeager, Erik Lindbergh and air show performers, including Michael Goulian.
Another popular, albeit new, role model was Andy from a new animated program “Andy’s Airplanes.” Kids lined up to see the larger-than-life hero.
For those who were in a sweat to develop their flying skills, HotSeats Flight Simulator donated three simulators for the kids to use.
“They have surround sound,” Majka notes. “It’s really hard to get the kids out of them!”
For more information: EAA.org