By Chris Faries
Almost everyone has flown in an airplane at least once during their lifetime. Unfortunately, for most people, this is the extent of their exposure to aviation. Professions such as aviation struggle to attract newcomers mainly due to the fact that these professions are not taught regularly in schools. It’s difficult for a student to be interested in a career he or she knows nothing about. For this reason, the Boy Scouts of America organization and the opportunities it provides to learn about aviation play a vital role in recruiting potential aviation professionals.
As an Eagle Scout myself, I can recall a few occasions on which I gained exposure to aviation that I otherwise would never have had. We once took a trip to the local airfield where we learned about all the different aspects of running an airport. We sat in small planes and saw all the controls, walked around the tarmac, and learned how the air traffic controllers operate. It was a trip I’m almost positive I never would have taken had I not been a Boy Scout.
My other Boy Scout aviation experience involved earning the aviation merit badge. I learned about many different aspect of airplanes, such as what roll, pitch, and yaw are and how they apply to flying. I learned about the physics of wings, lift, and thrust. I truly enjoyed the opportunity I had to learn about something new and relevant to my life.
While these types of events didn’t lead me to pursue a career in aviation, they most likely will have such an effect on some scouts. In the United States, where aviation is not a normal part of the education system, young people seldom develop an interest in aviation careers. The Boys Scouts provide a vehicle for learning about the profession and sparking an interest to learn more.
According to ENCToday.com, this weekend, May 14-15, 2011 the Coastal Carolina Regional Airport will be hosting a camp-out for about 220 scouts to learn and earn the aviation merit badge. Activities will include a skydiving demonstration, flight simulators, and sessions in aerodynamics, navigation, and control tower operations. Scouts will even get to ride in small planes with experienced pilots. Such an uncommon opportunity will likely motivate at least some of those scouts to pursue an education in the aviation profession.
Whether or not every scout that earns the aviation merit badge becomes an aviation professional, as the number of people with a knowledge of aviation increases, the success of aviation will also grow. The Boy Scouts of America play an important role in determining the potential growth of aviation, so collaboration between the two groups is vital.