Teenagers and midstate K-12 educators are the beneficiaries of relatively new and longstanding programs. Teens in grades eight through 12 are attending introductory and advanced summer camps, while adults are attending educator workshops.
Phyl Taylor oversees the three-week event, where attendees learn from experts, take road trips to places such as the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and National Museum of the Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, and haul a boatload — no, make that planeload — of material back to their respective classrooms.
Young-at-heart associate professor Wendy Beckman directs the three-week introduction and advanced summer camps, which give teens a chance to gain a world of insight about the industry that proves there is far more to it than sitting at the controls in the cockpit.
Young women in aviation are welcome to attend the youth camps, and they often outnumber the men in the K-12 teacher workshops.
And then there is Alison Taylor, of Murfreesboro, and Alexis Hutchinson, of Nashville. Taylor, 20, graduated during spring commencement ceremonies; Hutchinson, 23, plans to graduate in December.
Out of the MTSU professional pilot program, they are embarking on the flight of their young lives.
This past week, they flew Taylor’s Piper Cherokee 140D from Murfreesboro to Pasco, Wash., to participate in the annual Air Race Classic.
They are one of 47 scheduled teams to compete in the race, which will be held Tuesday, June 18, through Friday, June 21, going from Pasco in the southeastern part of the state to Fayetteville, Ark.
Their plan is then to fly on to Kitty Hawk, N.C., to gain a glimpse of the area where the Wright brothers made the world’s first flight in 1903.
They certainly will be among the youngest competitors in the field. What they hope to capture from the event is experience — real-world experience, rather than a controlled environment they encounter when they have received flight training in MTSU’s fleet of planes.
Mountain terrain out West will be a challenge, they said.
“There are no areas to land if you have an emergency,” Taylor said, in reference to the rugged terrain.
A Facebook website, gofundme.com/air-raiders-race, is an online method for the public to help defray their expenses, which include registration and associated race fees and maintenance.
As many already know, flying is not cheap and neither is airplane fuel. MTSU aerospace agreed to pay their lodging expenses.
For parents looking to send their son or daughter to the aerospace camp this year and in the future, as well as teachers wanting to get in on the workshops in 2014, should call 615-898-2788.