TROY — Hundreds of local sixth graders were exposed to the wonders of aviation on Monday and Tuesday during “Aviation Invasion,” a program hosted by WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center, and sponsored by the Troy Rotary Club.
Throughout the program, students visit several stations at the museum that featured various instructors and activities related to aviation.
Students began with a historical presentation from Judy Deeter of the Troy Historical Society, who discussed the early days of the WACO Aircraft Company and its manufacturing of civil aircraft during the early 20th century.
“Judy’s presentation is on WACO’s history, and what it has meant to the community,” said executive director Nancy Royer.
Students went on to construct custom launchable rockets, which they tested in WACO’s field with launchers pressured by compressed air from bicycle pumps.
“The students always love the rockets,” Royer said. “They’re paper, but they shoot really nicely. We put markers out to determine how far each rocket goes. We had one that went about 90 yards.”
Students were also treated to airplane orientation from Hartzell Propeller corporate pilot Sean Saddler.
“Each student each got an opportunity to crawl into the airplane, put their feet on the rudders, move the stick, and learn what each of the controls does,” Royer said.
Instructor John McNees was on site to demonstrate various types of drones, as well as discuss drone regulations and potential careers.
In all, 107 sixth graders from Van Cleve attended the program on Monday, with 212 Van Cleve students attending on Tuesday, as well as 44 fifth and sixth graders from Trotwood-Madison.
WACO has hosted “Aviation Invasion” since 2007, and according to Royer, its appeal and impact have never diminished.
“It’s always a highlight for the kids,” Royer said. “It ties in with their local and state history. The program is really to give a basis for them to understand why we’re here in Troy, what it’s meant financially to the community, and also to give them a taste of aviation before they hit junior high and high school, so they can start to think and dream and realize it’s a possibility for future hobbies or careers.”
WACO Air Museum and Aviation Learning Center is a non-profit organization with the goal of preserving aviation’s past and using aviation-related hands-on teaching projects to inspire and educate.
For more information, visit www.wacoairmuseum.org.