An aviation program that introduces boys and girls to the basic concepts of flying at Watervliet, New York, has inspired its participants to aim for careers in air and space according to a June 2 article in the Albany Times Union.
The program was spearheaded by Bill Womer, a retired music teacher who named the program in memory of Tom Brown, an engineer and inventor whose hobby was aviation. Brown died of leukemia in January and left his model airplanes and tools to Womer.
“My dream was to introduce young people to the world of aviation, to give them a glimpse not only of planes but everything else that goes with it,” Womer told the newspaper’s Azra Haqqie. Watervliet officials liked what they heard and agreed to offer the program in conjunction with the Watervliet Wind Warriors, a radio-controlled model airplane club.
On May 26, 14 fifth- and sixth-grade students were the first graduates of the Tom Brown Youth Aviation Program. They studied with area professionals and club members to understand flight and the connection of science and math to aviation. They interacted with commercial airline and helicopter pilots and radio control-tower operators, Haqqie wrote. Classes were held on Saturdays and lasted two hours. The students flew remote-controlled model planes, some of them created by the Wind Warriors.
“Week after week, the instructors’ passion was there for their field, but also for teaching the kids, blessing them with their knowledge,” said Jason Zakrzewski, whose fifth-grade daughter, Lauren, was one of the first graduates. “The kids learned what was possible. It showed them they could do what they want.” Lauren Zakrzewski plays sports and music, “but wants to fly for a living,” her the father said. “This program is a gateway for her, a stepping stone. It showed that Lauren can possess the same talents and skills as boys. The earlier you foster that dream in young girls and young ladies, the better their chances of pursuing their dream.”
Said Lauren: “I always used to draw pictures about birds and how they could fly. I wondered why people couldn’t fly.” She has set her sights on being a member of the U.S. Air Force.
Carol Messina, whose son, Ben, also was a graduate, said the course was an educational bonus. “This program was more than sports,” she said. “Something academic was a nice option for the kids.”
Said Ben: “I learned many new things.” He wants to study more science, he said.
To read the full story: www.timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=806020&category=REGION