How to 'land' a Cessna 172 in a schoolyard

February 4, 2010

Westchester County Airport From left to right, Katherine Brown, Peter Giles, and Kristen Staffaroni

Any educator will tell you that one secret to successful teaching connects subject matter to real-world examples. That’s why teachers often seek opportunities to participate in an event that they can use to bring the real world back to their classroom. When it comes to math and science, going for a flight can help teachers make learning fun and give students an incentive to learn: It’s much more interesting to learn mathematical principles from a teacher talking about “the Cessna I rode in yesterday.” On Feb. 1, three program coordinators at the New York City Center for Space & Science Education (NYCCSSE) received a tour of the Westchester County Airport; their tour included the airport operations, such as maintenance, security and emergency services, hangars, and aircraft. After a brief lunch at the airport restaurant, the program coordinators saw FBO and flight service operations.

Their tours concluded with discovery flights donated by the Westchester Aviation Association (WAA).

The NYCCSSE provides out-of-classroom experiences for students; the coordinators have the ability to augment their lesson plans for this experience with real-world technologies. The instructors promised to bring back their experience to the classroom.

AOPA Airport Support Network volunteer Ken Paskar worked with AOPA Northeast Regional Representative Craig Dotlo, the FAA Safety Team, and the WAA to arrange the tour and flights; airport officials and FBO staff guided the educators through the tour.

“Our ASN volunteers are highly encouraged to go out and improve the perception and neighborhood standing of their airports,” said Greg Pecoraro, AOPA vice president of airports and state advocacy. “By encouraging others, whether they be an elected official, teacher, or the child sitting on the fence watching the airplanes take off, we become good stewards of the airport and good neighbors to the community.”