Arkansas club exposes students to aviation topics
MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. (AP) — Rowan Laidler’s biggest career goal is to work for Boeing and NASA. To her, the easiest way to achieve that goal is to pursue an electrical engineering degree and minor in aviation or aerospace.
Laidler, who hopes to attend Purdue University in Indiana, thinks her area of study will help her become a pilot. The 17-year-old is among 11 students who are taking part in the Mountain Home High School (MHHS) Aviation Club.
Laidler, who recently started serving as president of the club, wants to gain experience. She’s doing that by going to the airport every second Thursday with the club.
“I’m learning a lot about basic planes and utensils on the inside, and the mechanisms,” Laidler, a senior at MHHS, said. She’s even learning about drones, a rising topic.
The Baxter Bulletin reports that MHHS launched an aviation club this school year. It meets every second Thursday of the month. Students are given an avenue to explore aviation topics, as well as learning about flying.
A news release states “extracurricular activities will consist of after-school gatherings at the Baxter County Airport to get hands-on exposure to aircraft and their characteristics.”
Skipper Thurman would like members to be able to, one day, get their pilot’s license through the club. They could start in 10th grade. And over the course of their high school when they graduate, they’d be able to get their pilot’s license.
One of the school’s goals is to get students ready for careers. Aviation is a “huge” field right now in terms of career opportunities, Thurman, the club’s sponsor and a science teacher for MHHS, said. There’s a shortage of pilots.
Students who can get into aviation in high school and get ahead on that, have the potential to “get a great job” in piloting, he said.
“It’s also just a really fascinating topic for a lot of students,” he said. “When you study aviation, you learn about engineering applications. There’s a lot of science and technology behind it. You also get into the mechanics of planes.”
Anyone can join. The club doesn’t require anyone to have some sort of knowledge before joining.
So far, there have been three meetings, which featured guest speakers. Students learned about drones at Thursday’s meeting.
First, they met in Thurman’s classroom, and then they headed to the Bomber practice field, where some students were given the opportunity to a fly a drone.
Thurman said there have been several students who have come to multiple meetings. Because it is a brand new club, there has to be time to grow awareness within the school.
“It’s been good,” Thurman said.
Laidler is the sole leader of the club. But, at this point, Thurman thinks that’s probably sufficient because of the size. If it grows, it will, of course, need a vice president and a secretary.
Students have shown interest. He knows students who are interested in pursuing aviation as a career.
“This club should create a lot of great opportunities for them,” he assured.
Students are given these opportunities thanks to Dr. Steve Johnson. As a retiree, Johnson wanted to have a project that would be beneficial to high school students and anyone in the area.
That retirement project includes the promotion of aviation at the junior high school, high school and at the college.
Johnson brought a drone to Thursday’s meeting in an effort to get students excited about aviation — and he expects the club to be a big success in the coming years.
If the students can learn what aviation is about, they can use it as a career for flying, as well as a business.
“It can also be a hobby for you,” Johnson said. “It can be a source of enjoyment.”
He thinks about his aviation project at night and in the morning.
“To have a dream come true is incredible,” Johnson said.
Information from: The Baxter Bulletin, http://www.baxterbulletin.com