Scouts Get a Lesson in Aviation
By Brendan O'Reilly
A group of Boy Scouts from Long Island recently worked toward their Aviation Merit Badges with a visit to the Mid Island Air Flight School with Assistant Chief pilot Gary Spence. Spence spoke to the Southampton Troop 58 scouts about aviation history and the math and physics behind flying, then took them into the hangar for an up-close look inside a single-engine plane. In addition, Spence told them about the importance of following the weather reports: "We're not asking our pilots to be meteorologists, but you have to know more about the weather than, 'Hey, it looks like a nice day today.'" The Aviation Merit Badge, which dates back to 1911, has evolved over the years with flight technology, and today its requirements include visiting an airport or aviation museum, learning about the physics of flight, and learning about career opportunities. Many young flight students in New York come through the flight school via the Board of Cooperative Educational Services aviation program, which can let them work their way to a pilot's license for about a tenth of the cost of paying privately for lessons, said Spence. Though the Brookhaven Airport-based Mid Island Air is not the closest flight school to Southampton, the troop chose it because one of its scouts, Justin Sinclair, volunteered at Brookhaven last year with the History Flight organization, which searches for downed World War II planes and their crews. Among the scouts intrigued by the trip were Greg Nanos, who said, "I liked seeing all the different types of planes, what makes them different and how they work," and Shane Sharkey, who said, "Now I want to be a pilot."
April 8, 2009