At the 10th Annual Triple Tree Fly-in at the Triple Tree Aerodrome (SC00) in South Carolina, held Sept. 6-10, volunteer instructor Rob Trayntham gave tours of the Robert Shaw Learning Center, a gleaming new building nestled behind the General Store and the Maintenance Shop.
The new air-conditioned learning center, named after Robert Shaw, a pilot, RV builder, a control line RC competitor and a member of the Triple Tree Aerodrome board of directors, is divided into three rooms.
The auditorium, the largest room, comfortably seats 100 pilots in folding chairs. Model airplanes and radio-controlled models from Shaw adorn the ceiling and walls. The second largest room holds six simulators. The smallest room, which has cubicles and a conference table and chairs in it, is the administrative office.
Student field trips and classes were previously held in the Maintenance Shop and the Restoration Center, according to Trayntham.
“We used to run classes in October and November because that was the only time it was cool enough,” he said. “With this new facility, we can run year round.”
The Robert Shaw Learning Center building was a gift from an anonymous donor.
“All but the concrete slab was constructed by volunteers,” said Trayntham. “Michelin donated the carpet and various pieces of furniture, including the cubicles, chairs, and tables. The Tom Davis Foundation donated the equipment and software for the simulator room and we have Cessna 172 simulators coming later in September. In the auditorium we have part of the collection up, but there are many more models. We plan to cover the ceiling with them.”
Michelin North America headquarters is in nearby Greenville, South Carolina.
Pat Hartness, the founder of Triple Tree Aerodrome, addressed a group of pilots in the auditorium during the fly-in.
“We will have many opportunities to bring young people into aviation with this new learning center,” he said. “Triple Tree is ours. Let’s make it grow and prosper.”
He projected that thousands of school kids will be using the facility and be introduced to aviation through it.
During the fly-in, presentations by a handful of aviation elite, including Bruce Landsberg, former head of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s Air Safety Foundation, Jack Pelton, chairman and CEO of the Experimental Aircraft Association, Mark Baker, AOPA president and others, including Ron Strauss, Elvis Presley’s pilot, were conducted in the new air-conditioned auditorium.
The Robert Shaw Learning Center was open all through the fly-in for adults and children to use.
Will Jenkins, 5, and his father Mike, of Covington, Georgia, used the simulators. This was their third time at the Triple Tree Fly-in, which Mike called “the full-size fly-in” since he has attended all the Joe Nall Fly-ins for radio-controlled airplanes. Will’s experience with RC airplanes helped him adapt instantly to the controls of the simulator, according to his father.
When asked what he thought of the simulator, Will spoke without looking away from the simulator screen, “It’s just like flying. I love flying.” Moments later Will landed a fighter jet without crashing it. His father grinned.
Taking refuge from the 90° heat, the ladies commandeered the administrative office for socializing, craft activities, and for games like the Poker Run and the Selfie Scavenger Hunt.
During the fly-in, Mike Zidziunas and Mark Ducorsky gave a presentation on attracting and educating young people in aviation. Zidziunas is the president of the 50-member Lakeland Aero Club on the campus of the SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In in Florida, where members range from 15 to 25 years old. This was Zidziunas’s first trip to Triple Tree Fly-in.
“We already go to Oshkosh,” Zidziunas said. “This is much closer, so I think we’ll be coming here, too. We have to work around school scheduling, but I’d like to make this fly-in a regular event, too.”
In addition to the events in the new education building, workshops on Hardware, Safety Wiring, Riveting, Fabric Covering, Oil Filters, Spark Plugs, Aircraft Tires and Tubes, Avionics, VFR and IFR Certification, and Prop Balancing, were led by volunteer instructors in the Maintenance Shop and the Joey Griffin Restoration Center.
According to Triple Tree officials, more than 800 aircraft arrived during the fly-in, with the tower recording more than 1,900 aircraft movements. They also noted that “for the first time ever” the newly expanded lower camping area was completely full by the second day of the fly-in.