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KidVenture - A Full Family Experience

You can be somebody after riveting your own name tag

Hey, Mom! I'm actually building an airplane!

Kids harness the wind in the Hamilton Sundstrand booth as they build wind powered (RAT) generators

By Dan Majka, EAA Lifetime 90726

KidVenture is a unique place on the AirVenture site - a place where young people can discover, build and enjoy. It started in 1999 as a way to expand the full family experience at AirVenture. It encourages attendance by children ages five to 17 with hands-on educational and aviation-related experiences. Now located in Pioneer Hangar One and the Vette Hangar, plus a 10,000-square foot tent at Pioneer Airport, KidVenture's activities include riveting, shaping a propeller, working on an engine, making simple wiring connections, using a CAD program to design an aircraft, flying a helicopter simulator, flying an aircraft simulator with an instructor, experiencing U-Control and electric Radio controlled model airplanes, building balsa gliders and many other real world aviation experiences. Also sprinkled around our five-acre site are numerous other tents housing model airplane flying activities. Control line and electric radio control flying are offered to our young guests under the guidance of an instructor.

We realize not every youngster will become a pilot so we offer more than 30 aviation-related experiences to broaden their view of aviation on the ground, in the air and in space. We have a full size homebuilt Mercury Seven Capsule with all the lights and switches, where young future astronauts can learn about John Glenn's Freedom Seven spaceflight. The "Dream Flight Space Bus" is a learning laboratory about space and offers children the chance to try their hand at a Mars landing. A dedicated group of HAM radio operators also set up a HAM station at KidVenture so kids can chat with people around the world.

KidVenture is run by a dedicated group of more than 400 volunteers who believe in passing their love of aviation to the next generation.These volunteers come from all over the world and represent more than 50 EAA Chapters and range from 14 to almost 90 years old. Last year our volunteers contributed nearly 12,000 volunteer hours at KidVenture. Some of our current volunteers first learned about KidVenture by attending as guests. Many parents seeing how excited their own children got felt the need to volunteer to offer that same chance to other children. After 15 years of KidVenture, some of our young guests have grown up to now be KidVenture volunteers and teach their skills to new guests.

All activities at KidVenture are free for the young attendees thanks to supporters such as UTC, Van's Aircraft, Avery Tools, Hartzell Propeller, Sikorsky, Pratt & Whitney, Hamilton Sundstrand, and Scotts, plus individual donors including President's Council and Board members who believe in KidVenture mission, such as James Ray, Jim Brown and Jim Gorman. We offer experiences that take the child through the steps to become a pilot guided by Young Eagles Flight Education (YEFE) instructors and also offer them hands on learning experiences where they can complete tasks to earn a "Future A&P" badge and even their very own tool set.

KidVenture has about 22,000 kids and parents visit each year. We estimate that the average stay is about four hours in length, with many children coming back day after day. KidVenture is best described as a chance for parents and children to learn together in an environment that is offered to this scale nowhere else on the EAA grounds. It's not a drop-off or babysitting location; we expect that KidVenture will be experienced as it was designed, with the entire family.

KidVenture can be reached by walking though the Nature Center or by taking the museum shuttle bus from the main bus stop. Our hours of operation are between 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. each day Monday to Saturday and from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. on Sunday. We invite all the other AirVenture volunteers to take an hour out of their busy schedules and visit us, to see the enthusiasm of the kids as they experience KidVenture. You will see EAA's future being formed at KidVenture and their young energy will recharge your batteries to continue EAA's mission.


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