Students and their families descended on DuPage Airport (KDPA) in West Chicago, Illinois, for one last summer celebration before the start of school.
Hosted by the DuPage Airport Authority and the City of West Chicago, the Second Annual Back to School Celebration, held Aug. 28, 2018, educated young minds on the world of aviation and gave neighbors a firsthand look at one of the region’s busiest general aviation airports.
The more than 500 attendees had an opportunity to browse and explore a range of different aircraft, as well as meet pilots and sit in the cockpits.
Airport emergency vehicles and snow removal equipment were also on display.
The Civil Air Patrol Fox Valley Squadron brought flight simulators to give students an opportunity to handle the yoke, while the West Chicago Fire Protection District, West Chicago Police Department, West Chicago Sherriff’s Department, and Boy Scouts Three Fires Council each hosted interactive exhibits.
Other event participants included the Red Cross and Military Vehicles Association.
“This event provided the terrific opportunity to introduce and connect students with the aviation industry right here in West Chicago, many of whom had never been to an airport before or had the opportunity to interact with aviation professionals,” said David Bird, DAA Executive Director. “It only takes one time sitting in the cockpit of a classic Stearman or operating the controls of a flight simulator to fall in love with the idea of flying. If even a handful of the students left here today with a piqued interest in an aviation-related career, the Back to School initiative will have been a success.”
Participants were treated to lunch and also received various giveaways from event partners. Admission to the event was free.
The idea for the Back to School celebration originated in 2017 when the airport authority sought a mechanism for engaging members of the West Chicago community with the airport.
“We wanted to showcase not only the grounds and facilities, but the various operational elements that enable us to handle more than 80,000 flights annually,” added Mark Doles, Director, Aviation Facilities, Properties and the DuPage Flight Center.