March 27, 2014 --
More than 40 children opted to give up flying planes via video games in order to fly real ones Saturday at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport.
The Experimental Aircraft Association offered Marine Corps Logistics Base Marines’ and civilian-Marines’ children an opportunity to co-pilot a flight to areas in Albany, Ga., through the Young Eagles Program.
Capt. Gene Fandel, Civil Air Patrol, explained the flight path would take the children over MCLB Albany to allow them to get a birds’ eye view of their parent’s workplace.
He added they would also fly over Chehaw in Albany, Ga., which includes a zoo and a BMX bike trail, then head back to the airport.
“I think this is awesome!” Patrice Evans, an 8-year-old student at Lake Park Elementary School, Albany Ga., said.
Before boarding the plane, Patrice leaped and clapped her hands in excitement and exclaimed, “I think this is going to be so much fun. I might want to do this in the future.”
According to Gunnery Sgt. Helen Castro, supply chief, Logistics Services Management Center, Marine Corps Logistics Command, this is a great tool to assist children in deciding what they may want to do in the future.
“These children are at the age where they are beginning to make decisions about career paths,” Castro said. “To be able to give flying a test drive is awesome.
“How many kids can say they have sat in the cockpit of an airplane?” she asked. “Not many. It’s also great to have other kids in front of them, serving as a positive example.”
While waiting for their chance to fly, children were able to see teen Civil Air Patrol participants and ask questions at a recruiting station set up in the hanger.
The cadets entertained children by demonstrating the correct procedure in carrying a person on a stretcher, allowing them to activate glow sticks, examine the contents of a meal-ready-to-eat and try on gear used in the field.
“The pilots and cadets’ time, the gas, the planes; everything needed was freely given,” Fandel said. “We are honored to be able to do this today. To be able to give back to the service men and women, who protect this nation, is a privilege for us.
“We wanted to give these service men and women’s children an opportunity to explore the field of aviation,” he said. “If after the flight they want more information pertaining to what it takes to become a pilot, we are there for them. If not, we have given kids an opportunity they may not ever have again. Either way, I think it’s a good experience.”
Fandle emphasized the flights were not just about going in the air and sitting in the cockpit.
“We stress if you want to be a pilot, you must first do well in school, listen to your parents, and be a good person. We are trying to instill good behavior in all these kids first and foremost.”