Students earn their wings

Students in Dana Rosingus and Robbi Jacobsen's fifth-grade classes didn't earn their wings March 30 for eating peanuts on an hour flight to Las Vegas.

They had to learn the principles of what makes a plane become airborne.

The Gardnerville Elementary School students were among 30,000 nationwide who participated in Southwest Airlines' Adopt-A-Pilot program.

Resident Steve Christl, who is a Southwest pilot based out of Phoenix, Ariz., was one of 650 pilots who were part of the program.

"I was impressed and told the people at Southwest how well you did so you all get a diploma," Christl said to the students. The diplomas read, "Passed with flying colors."

"You get your wings because you did so well in the class. The heart on the wings is a symbol for Southwest," he said.

The educational program uses science, math and geography to encourage fifth graders to research careers, set personal goals and to do well in school.

Christl told the students that Bernoulli's principle explains how a wing develops lift - that an increase in velocity has to occur at the same time as a decrease in pressure.

"High pressure will go over the bottom, lifting the object into the air," Christl said.

Engines are the parts of planes used to make it go faster and create thrust.

"What opposes thrust?" Christl said.

"Drag," said student Robbie Resnik. "If you're in a car and you open a window, it creates drag and slows you down."

During the four-week-long program, Christl corresponded with the elementary school students so they could chart his course on a United States route map during his flying schedule.

A Web site is provided by Adopt-A-Pilot where students may respond to pilots and teachers who journal their aviation and classroom experiences at

Geoffery McAlpin, 11, said the program was really awesome.

"You're given a name if you're on a plane and want to identify yourself," he said. "I think it's kind of funny because my name is 'Golf Mike.'

"I was glad we got to do this. This program let's you experience what being a pilot is. I'll hang my diploma and wings up in my house." said Geoffery.

To learn more about the Adopt-A-Pilot program, go to


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