Sixth-graders learn how Minden Airport works |

Sixth-graders learn how Minden Airport works

by Fred LaSor
Special to The R-C
A Nevada Division of Forestry firefighter shows students the firefighting bucket used to deliver water to fires.
Special to The R-C

Nearly 400 Douglas County middle school students had the opportunity to learn about how airplanes and airports work and how they themselves might some day be involved in aviation during a tour last week of the Minden-Tahoe Airport.

The program was organized by the Sports Aviation Foundation for the fourth year in a row. Sixth-graders from Pa-Wa-Lu and Carson Valley middle schools, as well as Piñon Elementary, visited the airport May 9-12, where volunteers from the Foundation, as well as others from the Civil Air Patrol, the Ninety-Nines, The Nevada Division of Forestry, Careflight, and SoaringNV introduced students to aircraft and their systems, demonstrated how instruments and rockets work, and learned about airport operations.

The students climbed through helicopters, CAP search planes, gliders from SoaringNV, and made baking soda rockets that climbed 20-30 feet into the air. They also learned how they could participate in the Build-a-Plane program, during which they will actually construct a flying airplane.

The tour was organized into eight learning stations taught by experienced members of the aviation community, and the students were able to spend up to 15 minutes at teaching station before moving on to another station.

Interviews with the students revealed that slightly fewer than half of them had visited the airport previously, and around one-quarter of them had actually flown in an airplane.

The Sports Aviation Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable foundation created five years ago to involve more youngsters in aviation, to encourage airport safety, to support the sponsorship of soaring contests and general aviation activities, and eventually to open an aviation history center on the east side of the airport, where soaring activities are focused.

The organizers of the four-day program calculated that more than 38 people had volunteered some 350 hours in order to make this program a success. Organizer Kathy Bradford said these were, “exciting, educational mornings at the airport,” despite some inclement weather the final day.

Organizers also extended an invitation to the students to return for future airport activities, including the Sept. 23 Aviation Adventure and the Oct. 7-8 Aviation Roundup that will highlight the Thunderbirds precision aviation team.