Adventures at aviation camp

Published 2:41 pm Friday, September 24, 2010

AT THE OSHKOSH AIR MUSEUM where most of the academy classes and labs take place, from the left, are Scott Cameron (camp director), Scott Sutor (EAA Chapter 445 president), Cadet Tyler Pollock, LaCourtney Baker (East Gadsden High School), Cadet Avery Chestnut, and former Air Force Junior ROTC Instructor Col. Gary Breedlove.

Bainbridge High School Air Force Junior ROTC Cadets Avery Chestnut and Tyler Pollock recently completed the nine-day Advanced Aviation Camp at Oshkosh, Wis., joining a group of elite students where BHS has sent more participants than any other high school in the United States over the last five years.

Chestnut and Pollock were the 10th and 11th Bainbridge cadets selected for the Oshkosh camp over the past five years. Each of the 11 were competitively selected and sponsored by Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 445 from Tallahassee, Fla. Sponsorship included air fare and camp registration, valued at more than $1,500.

Chapter 445 has also sent three other students from other area schools.

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The aviation academy is considered the premiere high school aviation camp in the United States.

“Going to Oshkosh was an amazing experience for me. I learned a lot about aircraft. I also got to enjoy some of the vocational aspects of aviation, such as building an aircraft wing rib out of wood, making a spark plug holder from sheet metal, and a clipboard using composites. But, I would have to say the air show was the highlight of the trip,” said Chestnut.

Cadets Chestnut and Pollock, both BHS seniors this year, were at Oshkosh July 20-28, along with approximately 50 other students from across the United States and Canada. Oshkosh is the headquarters of the Experimental Aircraft Association and home of the largest General Aviation air show in the world, AirVenture.

“My time at Oshkosh was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I spent a week learning about aviation and I also got to meet people from around the country,” said Pollock. “I has classroom activities in the morning and workshop activities in the afternoon. The classroom activities taught me why airplanes are designed the way they are, and the workshop activities taught me how to build airplanes from various materials. My roommates were from Arizona, Missouri and Pennsylvania. Meeting people from all over the country taught me that no matter where you come from there are always people who share a common goal with you. I had a wonderful time at the academy and I would like to thank EAA Chapter 445 for the opportunity.”

The camp consist of extensive hands-on lab sessions and flight experiences led by highly qualified instructors. They also study flight weather and navigation, and each receives a “left seat” flight in a small aircraft with a flight instructor along with a helicopter ride. In addition, the cadets were able to enjoy two full days of the AirVenture air show. The total experience is unequaled in any other aviation camp anywhere.

Previous BHS cadets selected were Michael Love and Josh Pope in 2006; Derrick Akins and Phillip Lambert in 2007; Jessica Merritt and Tiffy Blocker in 2008, and Darren Good, Adam Anderson, and Stephen Dunn in 2009.

Also, for the first time, three Chapter 445 members were able to visit the cadets during the camp. Former Chapter 445 President Danny Deason, current President Scott Sutor, and former BHS JROTC Instructor Col. Gary Breedlove visited the camp and toured the facilities with the cadets.

“I’ve always wanted to see for myself the camp environment and talk with the leaders of the Air Academy. This was a very impressive experience for me and I came away more impressed than ever before,” Breedlove said.