The successful debut of the Young Aviators Fly-In prompted Triple Tree Aerodrome organizers in to establish a youth council for the June 21 to 23 event, with plans to make the fly-in for youth bigger, better, and more fun.
Young aviators Cayla McLeod and Ryan Hunt spearheaded the 2018 aviation gathering aimed at young people after they were befriended by airfield patriarch Pat Hartness. It drew 500 attendees to the 7,000-foot-long idyllic grass strip nestled among Woodruff, South Carolina’s rolling hills during a spring weekend of camping, aircraft watching, RC demonstrations, instructional clinics, and camaraderie.
More fun means McLeod, who was mentored by Candler Field Museum Youth Aviation Program founder Ron Alexander, and Hunt, a third generation aviator and a commercial pilot studying for a jet type rating, are tasked with keeping the mission on point.
McLeod vowed that the youth fly-in would “not stray from the original mission to educate, celebrate, and encourage next generations of aviators.” She expected that additional educational programs, increased exposure to college recruiters, and mentoring by professional aviators would help sharpen the focus for the next generation "to take flight."
Because the event is aimed at involving youth in aviation, it will again be run by young people sharing an emphasis on exploring their aviation opportunities. However, she also encouraged seasoned pilots to attend and lend a hand shaping future aviators.
McLeod thanked educators for showing the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math studies and reminded aviation enthusiasts and students that the private airfield is opening its gates to school systems and others during the fly-in. “We want to make sure that we get the word out that Triple Tree is all about aviation and education, and how much fun it can be.”
The success of the first fly-in aimed at youth spawned the formation of the Triple Tree Young Aviators Council, a group of eight aviators between the ages of 17 and 25 who would best assist young aviators to achieve their dreams, a Feb. 15 news release noted.
“We are very excited about the formation of this council and the impact that it might have on aviation's next generation,” McLeod said. In addition to McLeod and Hunt, council members include aviation enthusiasts Alex Kirkland, Austin Banttari, Justin Dal Colletto, Slade Rosamond, Malena Modirzadeh, and Logan McAllister. Robb Williams, the director of Triple Tree Aerodrome, said the council may expand to neighboring Southeastern states “in the upcoming years.”