WDC eighth-graders took to the tarmac at the Wadena Municipal Airport for an educational session about the maintenance, operation, and science behind flight. Science students learned about aviation from storied pilots and also got the opportunity to fly in the skies above Wadena. Brad Wollum teaches science and is also a pilot. In January, Wollum was approached by local pilots about injecting some aviation science into his lesson plan. Initially Wollum thought the session would only involve a select group of middle schoolers, but the group quickly proposed having the entire grade come out to learn about planes with the added bonus of flying themselves. Wollum praised the event as a chance to learn about science using real world examples. "There is a lot of science, the pilot community is an open, sharing community," said Wollum. He went on to say that pilots typically enjoy sharing their sport, profession, and hobby with anyone interested.
On the runway several planes waited for students. Some were excited, others were a little apprehensive. Initially, the small passenger planes appeared to be slightly intimidating to attendees. The pilots led the kids around the planes, introducing them to the many parts that make up an aircraft. They inspected the wings, propellers and cockpit. As a group they went through a preflight check to make sure everything was safe.
After explaining the inner workings of the planes, the children were strapped in. The engines roared with propellers a blur as the small planes began moving down the tarred strip. One-by-one they took off down the narrow track, students waved and gave shaky thumbs up. After several minutes in the skies, the planes returned and students exited their respective planes. They promptly rushed the airport building to discuss their flight. Smiles were abound with just a few jittery legs. Madelyn Gallant said that it was her first time flying. From her high vantage point, she could see everything. When asked if she was scared, she responded, "just a bit, when we first got on." Luckily, that fear quickly evaporated. Kayla Meeks, enjoyed the ride. It wasn't her first time on a plane. With no fear, she boarded, took off, and returned to the airport safely. She explained that she simply enjoys stuff like that, she could be seen happily riding up front during takeoff. When asked what her favorite part of flying was, she said, "flying over my house."
Students were broken into three groups with plane sessions being held all day. Around 30 signed up for the event.