Raymond Gonzalez, a high school teacher from the Bronx, New York, knew immediately which airplane on the AOPA ramp he wanted to fly.
“I want to go in that one,” he said, pointing to a Cessna 182. “I want to ride in something with power.”
The teachers learned how to bring aerodynamic concepts to life by building paper airplanes, wind tunnels, airfoils, and 3D foam models of Class B and Class C airspace. They’ll take these ideas back to their classrooms as part of the curriculum’s engaging content that has proven highly popular among the schools that teach it. Three hundred twenty-two schools in 44 states now use the curriculum, with more signing on each year—and every school that has enrolled in the program has renewed for successive years.
As some teachers got an introduction to aviation weather theory and medical qualifications, others trooped out to the AOPA ramp to get a look at a GA airplane (and a six-pack). Gonzalez, a presolo student pilot, said he felt like “a kid at Disneyland” looking at the airplanes on the ramp at Frederick Municipal Airport and on AOPA’s ramp. Gonzalez is an avid flight simmer and he knew the makes, if not always the models, of most of the airplanes he saw.
Others, like Richard Roughton of Elysburg, Pennsylvania, are brand-new to GA. Roughton climbed into the left seat of AOPA’s 182 and studied the instruments in the panel as Erik Yates, director of curriculum development for the AOPA Foundation, gave him the laymen’s tour.
Jonas De Leon of New York City has been a pilot since 1992, and he flew his Mooney to Frederick to participate in the workshop.
Rides in GA aircraft are a highlight of teacher workshops, and this week’s group watched the weather—which was early-summer overcast with threats of rain on the first day—before taking flight on June 15 in AOPA aircraft. AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Dave Hirschman even took two daring teachers aloft in an Extra 300L for some unusual attitudes.
Teachers don’t need to be pilots to teach the high school STEM curriculum, but some educators have fallen in love with GA after getting involved in the program. And if they do, the AOPA Foundation awards up to 20 teacher scholarships through its annual scholarship program.
The You Can Fly program and the Air Safety Institute are funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.