For the past nine years, I have had the honor and privilege of serving as an Adopt-A-Pilot. I visit three fifth-grade classrooms each month at Desert Shadows Elementary School in Scottsdale, Arizona .
We talk about everything from the history and future of aviation to science, math, and geography. By telling these students about my career, I encourage them to start thinking about their own futures. Whether the students dream of becoming astronauts, doctors, or even a Southwest Pilot one day, it is important for them to see the world as a place of limitless possibilities.
I am always trying to think of new ideas for lesson plans to continue to keep these kids engaged. Last year, I took helicopter lessons and added a Helicopter Rating to my Pilot’s License. I thought, how cool would it be to fly to the school in a helicopter?!
I flew in with my instructor, Dan Ennis, and we landed right in the middle of the sports field at the elementary school.
Dan showed the kids the cockpit and gave each student one-on-one instruction with the controls. In the meantime, I took the second half of the class around the helicopter, explaining each of the parts and how they worked. At the end of the visit, all three classes came out to wave goodbye and watch us takeo ff.
I think the hands-on experience was great for the kids. Seeing a real flying machine up close and actually sitting at the controls reinforces our classroom discussions about the airfoils and aerodynamics. The kids asked great questions, which indicated to me that the event had really piqued their interest and energized them about aviation. Everyone had a lot of fun, and this is definitely something I will do again in future years.
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