Two dozen Cub Scouts from northern Maryland sat in a circle under the bright yellow wing of a Reimagined Cessna 150 parked in AOPA’s National Aviation Community Center (NACC) hangar and doodled on airplane diagrams while volunteer Jack Banks, a former pilot, barked out the parts of an airplane, while outfitted with a tattered green flight suit for his assumed persona of United Airlines founder Jack Knight in the 1920s. Banks earned his private pilot certificate before a bout with kidney stones grounded him and his practical flight experience has commanded the attention of these campers.
Across the way, 30 more Cub Scouts learned about lift, drag, thrust, and weight from youth minister Joe Daly, who deployed a whimsical flip chart before inviting the campers to create paper airplanes using geometry and symmetry for their folds. “I love paper airplanes,” said camper Connor Frazier as he tossed one skyward just past the wing of a nearby Cessna 182.
All in all, 215 Cub Scouts wearing orange “Take Flight, 2015” T-shirts darted around the association’s campus exploring different facets of aviation as well as traditional scouting activities of archery, rope work, and good citizenship. As he drove up on a four-wheeler tugging a full load of water coolers, David Pace, the Catoctin Mountain district chairman, said participation in the five-day camp is up 25 percent over last summer, with campers coming from Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Maryland; and even the Virgin Islands.
At the hangar, Scouts got a big dose of ground school training. “I want to talk about pitch, roll, and yaw,” Banks boomed to the campers. “I want you to show me what an aileron is and how to control an airplane, and then I want to talk about navigation.”
Cub Master LeMoyne Fletcher was outfitted as a dashing Howard Hughes complete with a leather aviator’s cap, goggles, and a flight suit as he explained the day’s activities to campers gathered on the grassy slope near the NACC.
Fletcher and camp organizer Colby Child herded a pack of youths toward flagpoles planted in front of a sea of parents, volunteers, and campers to lead the morning’s traditional flag raising ceremony. With an eye focused on the blue sky overhead like a true pilot, Fletcher looked up and made a simple aviator’s request, “I’m just hoping the weather holds out.”
Adjacent to the archery range, volunteers Catherine Vizas, 11, and Frederick County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Grunwell, fashioned a quartet of fabric wings for the Wright Flyer zip line activity to give campers a taste of what flying is all about.
Modern ingenuity didn’t stray too far from the original concept of powered flight as a tow truck hoisted a line levitating the prone youths and their sliding basket for a short zip line “flight” to a soft, grassy landing.
The flight basket cockpit couldn’t come close to containing the enthusiasm spreading across the face of camper Alex Contreras, 10. “It was really exciting when they lifted you up!” Contreras exclaimed. “And it was fun going downhill for the landing.”