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Bootcamp shows athletes, aviation a match made in heavenBootcamp shows athletes, aviation a match made in heaven

  • AOPA's National Aviation Community Center hosts Soldierfit, a local gym specializing in bootcamp workouts. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • "Air-obic" exercises were aviation-themed. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The NACC's hangar is a great place for a workout. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Both inside and outside space was used for exercises. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • A 152 parked in the hangar is a visible reminder of the environment the class takes place in. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Soldierfit's Jason Henline leads the warm-up. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Jason Henline is Soldierfit's Top Black Hat (your friendly drill sergeant) at the Frederick, Maryland, location. Photo by Mike Collins.
  • The class is off to a flying start! Photo by Mike Collins.
  • Class lunges in and out of the hangar. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Watch out, human aircraft on approach! Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • What's normally a bear crawl turns into tugging and pulling an imaginary airplane. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • There was no rest for the weary. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • We're experiencing turbulence! Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Dive-bomber push-ups are being demonstrated to the crowd. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.
  • Marc Macdonald, one of Soldierfit's Black Hats, takes in the scenery. Photo by Gloria Estrada Photography.

“This is awesome!”

“This is just so awesome!”

And so it was. Except that it was really just a normal day at the airport—severe clear, blue skies, helicopters hovering, and the gamut of general aviation fixed-wing aircraft taking off and landing.

The exclamations of wonder came from a crowd you don’t normally meet at the airport. AOPA’s National Aviation Community Center (NACC) opened its substantial hangar doors to Soldierfit, a gym located in the vicinity of the Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland that specializes in bootcamp workouts. And one of those classes was about to take place at the hangar and its environs. As Soldierfit’s members filed into the venue, they looked around and marveled at the sights, exclaiming: “Awesome.” “Look at that—did you see that airplane take off?” “This is so great!”

The NACC’s mission is to welcome the local community to the airport and general aviation. Soldierfit’s athletes are a perfect fit. They come from all walks of life but like most people are not familiar with aviation beyond the sterility of the big hubs. Being on the actual airfield, watching helicopters from the flight school next door hover-taxi, seeing (and hearing) biplanes and jets take off or land one after the other on the runway closest to the hangar was a first for most of them.

About 100 showed up for an hour-long bootcamp session. It was a given that Jason Henline, Soldierfit’s Top Black Hat at the Frederick location, fashioned an aviation-themed workout. “Air-obic” exercises included dive bomber push-ups, banking turns, airplane tugs, and takeoffs. The control tower staff, which was told about the event, must have had a ball watching the horde storming out of the hangar, flapping their wings—errr arms—for that last exercise. Of course the workout was accompanied by the requisite aircraft noises and soundtrack, led by “Danger Zone” from Top Gun. Judging by frequent giggles and outright laughs, everyone seemed to have a really good time.

The NACC had a couple of aircraft on display and had staffed several simulators, as well as its full-motion Redbird FMX flight simulator with wrap-around visual display. After the workout was over, Soldierfit’s members walked around, took pictures in front of airplanes, of airplanes, the airport, peeked into cockpits, sat in the aircraft, and enjoyed flying the simulators. Nobody rushed to leave.

Many commented on the friendly environment and accessibility of the airport. “We thought this was more like a big club for members only, we had no idea we could just come here and hang out,” marveled a member who had also brought her children. “There’s even a restaurant,” wondered another.

Will all of them run off and take flying lessons? Probably not (even though a couple might). Will all of them have a newfound appreciation for the airport and small aircraft? You bet!

Mission accomplished.

AOPA’s NACC is located at the Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland. It can be booked for aviation-related events, as well as community events, and private meetings. It currently hosts regular weekend movie nights, focusing on aviation-related movies like Top Gun, Amelia, Planes: Fire & Rescue, and more. Find more information online.

Topics: Pilot Health and Medical Certification, Pilot Training and Certification

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