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EAA Chapter Commended for School Program

Jeff Seaborn
Jeff Seaborn president, Chapter 1410, with his son over the Alberta Foothills

Map reading
Senator Riley French Immersion class learns to read aviation maps.

Grade 6 Cayley school students
Grade 6 Cayley school students visited the High River airport on May 12 as part of their curriculum on flight. As part of the tour, the students each sat in Jean Dueck s airplane.

While scanning several EAA chapter websites this week, I was impressed with the amount of space devoted to chapters’ work with children. Most chapters have a page devoted to Young Eagles that is second only to their page for member projects. Others publicize their scholarship programs or share building projects with Air Cadets, while some chapters send members to speak at schools. Chapters seem to be concerned with making a difference in their communities through sharing their love of aviation with children and young people; they hope to build a succession so that general aviation will grow, airports will thrive, and the sky will represent the hopes and dreams of the next generation.

Chapter 1410 in High River, AB., focuses on kids with their Community Outreach program. A few years ago, when the ‘aviation module’ was added to the Grade 6 science curriculum, chapter member Eileen Griesdale was asked to provide technical assistance to a teacher-friend. Soon the class visited the local airport, many kids for their first time. Many turned up a few weeks later for a Young Eagles flight, and as the word spread, other schools began to contact Eileen to join her program.

This program has grown legs, and this year Eileen and Rob Griesdale will host over 200 Grade 6 school children from five different schools. Other volunteers for the chapter have joined Eileen and Rob and the early, informal walk-about visits have grown to include a “cockpit experience” where students try the controls, learn to read aviation maps, and have a close look at an airplane maintenance shop where aircraft are under repair. They also receive a short “promo” from Captain Doug Eaglesham, Commanding Officer of 187 Foothills Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron.

The local community’s appreciation for this program was expressed in a recent article in the local newspaper, The High River Times, which we have (proudly) reprinted. We believe this program not only inspires our chapter to carry the message, but ensures the future of aviation in our community.

Students take flight at the High River Airport
Airport offers hands-on education
By Angela Hill, Times Editor

Although the wind was cold the busload of Grade 6 Cayley school students were warm with anticipation at being able to see airplanes up close on May 12.

The Grade 6 class from Cayley was one of five schools participating in the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) Chapter 1410’s airport educational program this spring. The idea began four years ago and according to EAA member Eileen Griesdale it’s growing every year.

“It gives students the chance to look two centimetres away from an aircraft,” she said. “It makes aviation interesting.”

Prior to the High River airport tour, students studied the parts of an airplane, the basic physics of flying and even made paper airplanes as a part of the Grade 6 curriculum on flight.

After a month of flight fundamentals, the students came to the High River airport for a tour guided by one of 80 EAA volunteer members.

“All of our volunteers are interested in promoting airport and aviation,” said Griesdale. “We have more than 200 kids coming through.”

Phil Wadsworth who keeps his airplane at the Springbank airport was another volunteer guide on Tuesday.

“Kids aren’t afraid of flying, it’s just the adults,” he said. “Kids are usually raring to go.”

The 13 Cayley students began their tour on the taxiway where they had to recall their vocabulary quickly as Griesdale had the children pretend they were airplanes getting ready for take off.

Students had to answer such questions as why take off into the wind or why are there different coloured lights?

After wracking their brains to remember everything they learned in the last month, the Grade 6 class got the once in a lifetime chance to be an airplane on the runway. They stretched their arms out and ran as fast as they could. One student even lay on the runway because she said, “I always wanted to be able to do that.”

The group was then led into Glen Coffee’s hangar where the students learned the difference between a rotary engine and a propeller engine from Air Cadet leader Doug Eaglesham.

Cayley student Leah Nielson’s eyes lit up when Griesdale announced that the next part of the tour would involve actually sitting in an aircraft.

“I’ve done this tour with the Girl Guides before,” she said. “My favourite part is when we sit in the plane.”

The class was led to Jean Dueck’s aircraft, which she built with her own hands. Once inside the aircraft the students were able to play with the controls and pretend they were flying.

Cayley student Emmett Murray anxiously waited his turn while students were helped in and out of the aircraft, two-by-two.

“This is on my ‘to do list’,” he said. “I’ve never been in a plane before.”

Grinning ear to ear, Murray got to check off one of his goals and said, “that was cool” once disembarking the aircraft.

Grade 6 student Hannah Green said she’s flown many times.

“I’ve been in a plane lots,” she said. “I don’t like the popping of your ears part.” She also said she could never be a pilot because “it’s too stressful.”

Andrew Roe from Cayley School said he’s still thinking about whether or not he wants to be a pilot.

“My grandpa was in the Air Force,” he said. “He was an awesome guy.”

After acting as pilots, the group met up with Rob Griesdale who builds his own airplanes.

“It takes about two and a half years to build one on your own,” he told the class.

The Grade 6 students got to see Griesdale’s Sportsman 2 plus 2 aircraft in its last two weeks before hitting the air.

At the end of the tour, the children didn’t want to leave and even thought about hiding out in Griesdale’s aircraft.

“It’s so fabulous to have an airport this close,” said Eileen Griesdale. “I want people to realize how lucky we are.”

To learn more about EAA, they meet the first Thursday of every month and for full details go to their website www.eeahighriver.org.

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