Twenty local high school students accepted the summer challenge of a “Double Eagle Aviation Adventure” (DEAA). They spent a week in an airport environment learning aerodynamics, flight planning, aircraft instruments and systems; building aircraft, visiting a control tower and getting exposure to aviation and aerospace careers.
Students were honored with a flyover salute by the Chile Flight formation flying team who arrived in style to lead the aircraft building workshop using Van’s Aircraft practice kits. After a morning devoted to building a piece of an airfoil, more than one student was heard to say, “I’m going to build an airplane!”
Students received career coaching through several “Meet a Pilot” sessions. The first day, Will Taylor, Albuquerque Police Department Sergeant arrived by helicopter and hopped out to talk about law enforcement careers. “Chase your passion”, advised John Wiebener, an active Federal Express 777 pilot and retired Air Force pilot. Glenn Anderson, recently retired from Southwest Airlines told students, “don’t limit yourself”. He encouraged them to “get good grades and apply for scholarships” and shared Navy adventures flying from carriers.
Engineers working in aviation and aerospace highlighted the value of a 4 year degree in mechanical, civil, or aeronautical engineering. Other sessions introduced careers in Air Traffic Control, aircraft maintenance, and how to get started with an aviation education.
Students were greeted each morning with static aircraft displays to learn about antique, contemporary, production and amateur built aircraft. Unplanned visits included an Erickson Air-Crane used for construction and Army helicopters that arrived during the week.
“Over 50 volunteers contributed to the success; we hope to do it again next year”, said DEAA Director Joyce Woods. Parents gave high praise for the program with one saying, “This is the best kept secret in Albuquerque.”
Certificates of completion were presented by President Bob Waters of EAA Chapter 179, with help from J.D. Huss of the Albuquerque FSDO (FAA) and NMDOT Aviation Division Director, Steve Summers. Students ranged from those with no aviation experience to one young woman who had soloed on her 16th birthday.
Following the week long adventure, each participant had an opportunity to take a special Young Eagle flight, following a route they planned. Free flights were provided by local volunteer licensed pilots.
The adventure is directed by Albuquerque Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 179, a 501c3 charitable organization of recreational pilots and aircraft builders, dedicated to sharing their love for aviation. Core sponsors include Aspen Avionics, Van’s Aircraft and Bode Aviation.