By Paul Harris
Young people love helicopters. OK, maybe not all, but most do – at least that’s the impression I got when I presented at a Science, Engineering and Technology Careers Day at a local high school in the San Francisco Bay Area recently. The number of questions received were indicative of just that. In fact, with one pair of youngsters, we couldn’t answer their questions fast enough before they were firing another at us!
I was originally asked by the owner of the flight school at which I fly to present at this event and, as a budding pilot working towards my helicopter CFI/II certificates, I was more than happy to participate and share some of my passion for aviation and helicopters in particular, as well as practice some of my newly-found lesson planning skills!
There was quite a bit of work involved for myself and a fellow pilot preparing the slides, and of course ensuring we stuck to our allotted 30 minutes which, as a couple of helicopter geeks, proved to be the hardest part! However, the effort invested paid dividends when it became obvious that we had their attention– the interest clearly showing on the faces of the high school students as well as the accompanying parents.
In the school corridor after the presentation, I heard a number of late-comers cursing because they had missed the helicopter slot and it occurred to me that we had achieved something useful, at least for those that made it. It really felt like we had introduced a new idea to a handful of teenagers and opened their minds to helicopter flying and aviation in general – perhaps something they had not been exposed to before or considered as a potential future career path.
In terms of my own benefit, I found this experience very valuable and rewarding indeed and would not hesitate to present at a similar event in the future. It allowed me to practice my presentation and teaching skills, and also gave me a chance to promote aviation and flying. I would strongly recommend to any trainee CFI students out there or even veteran instructors and commercial pilots to offer your services to local schools for career days or classroom talks – I think you’ll be surprised at the reception you’ll get!