About 40 Girl Scouts from across Ohio participated in Air Camp this week through Air Camp USA, which allowed them the opportunity to practice flying on flight simulators — before they co-piloted their own real world flights.
The middle-school aged girls, including seven from Springfield, spent the week learning the ins and outs of airplanes.
They visited several aviation-related locations around the Miami Valley, including the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base to check out the war planes and then the Dayton Rec Center to fly drones and zip up their flying suits.
But the culmination of the camp was when the girls made it to MacAir Aviation’s Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport in Xenia to get in the cockpit themselves.
The girls went through several stations including building a functional catapult and parachute.
They also tested their skills on flight simulators that provided them with a first-person, realistic experience of what it’s like to fly.
“The first time I did it (on the simulator), I crashed and then I started getting better,” said Roosevelt Middle School eighth-grader, Thayuh Jones.
The weather put up a good scare, but couldn’t stop the girls from taking to the Greene County skies. Every girl who wanted to was given the opportunity to co-pilot about a 20-minute flight — some even went solo for awhile.
Jones’ fellow camper, Sophia Meadows was also learning the hard way on the simulators — but the Snowhill sixth-grader has dreams of being an astronaut, so she’s got to start somewhere.
“I’m excited because I can brag to my brother that I’ve flown a plane before I’ve driven a car,” she said.
Air Camp is geared toward getting kids more active in aerospace and showing people that girls can be successful in STEM fields.
“What made me want to be an astronaut is all the boys at my school making fun of me for wearing my NASA shirt and saying girls can’t be astronauts,” Meadows said.
But with her already existing passion for warplanes and new-found building blocks of aviation, Meadows is well on her way to NASA — and proving all those boys wrong.
The camp concludes Friday with a graduation ceremony and badge presentation.
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