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Youth Aviation Activities for Chapters: Fly-In Activities, Part 1

By Tara Parkhurst, EAA 1148600, EAA Museum Educator

June 2017 - Summer is here and it’s the perfect backdrop for a fly-in. In addition to the fascinating planes that capture and hold the attention of the youth that attend our fly-ins, it is also a great idea to have activities that can supplement their experiences. With the range of ages, it is important to have a variety of activities, as some kids may be too young to experience a Young Eagles flight and others may be waiting in line. In addition, if the weather is not conducive to flying, you will appreciate having a backup of activities.

To assist your chapter with fly-in activities, this section will feature a multipart series to help you throughout this summer’s fly-in season.

For June, I’m highlighting the preflight inspection. If a child is taking a Young Eagles flight, it is essential to stress the importance of a preflight inspection as a necessary step for all pilots prior to getting in the airplane. For those too young to take a Young Eagles flight or not ready to, the preflight inspection is an excellent way to get them involved.

There are multiple ways you can use the preflight inspection. You can pair a child with an adult to complete each of these. If you find it necessary to use the plane for two groups at once, you can have one child/adult pair start on one end of the plane while another pair starts at the other end.

Option 1 — Simplified Checklist

Make a smaller, simplified version of a preflight checklist to use with younger children.  You can use all or omit some, depending on age. A great way to hold the attention of a younger child, this shorter version is a first step prior to completing the full checklist and gives them something to build upon at future fly-ins.

Option 2 — Airplane Checklist

Use the preflight checklist for the actual airplane you are inspecting. You can walk through each part with the child and ask why he or she thinks it’s important to check specific items. The checklist is lengthy, so this option is best suited for an older child.

Option 3 — Scavenger Checklist

Pick a select number of items on the checklist that you want a child to locate on the plane. I suggest having a few different scavenger hunt worksheets based upon the age of the child. They can check each item off as they find it (they may need more help if they are younger). There are two different examples, one for younger children and one for older children.

Option 4 — Discover the Problems Activity

Create 10 to 15 “problems” for children to discover as they walk around the plane. This activity assists in showing examples of what could be wrong with a plane, what should be fixed prior to flying, and how a checklist is important to ensure everything is working properly. 

Examples of “problems” that you can create on the airplane could include:

1.         Flat tire

2.         Debris in the engine

3.         Broken light

4.         Loose bolts/panels

5.         Water in the fuel tank

6.         Low oil

7.         Obstruction in pitot tube

8.         Circuit breakers out

9.         Blocked air vent

10.       Crack in propeller

11.       Loose belt

12.       Ailerons stuck

13.       Loose wires

14.       Broken antennas

15.       Baggage door unlocked

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