MIDWEST CITY, Okla. – Students from across the state visited Tinker Air Force Base last week for a hands-on aviation experience.
The 26 students participate in the Aviation Career Education Program, also known as ACE, which hosts weeklong summer camps with help from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, and Metro-Tech Aviation Careers Campus.
Tinker officials say participants visit the base to learn about military aviation.
“The goal is to give them exposure and an opportunity to see different aspects of aviation,” said Lt. Col. Cory Glenn, 465th Air Refueling Squadron pilot and ACE Academy coordinator. “We want these kids to find something they would like to do for their career and maybe pick a career track in aviation.”
“We are really fortunate to have people that want to move STEM forward in Oklahoma,” said Laura Shepherd-Madsen, ACE Academy coordinator from the FAA. “Aviation is the second largest industry in our state, and it’s up to us to be ambassadors to help our children go in that direction.”
During the visit, the students got a hands-on experience such as touring the KC-135R Stratotanker, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the T-6 Texan II aircraft. Students were able to talk with instructor pilots and learn about the Air Force Reserve Mission from aircrew.
They also participated in activities throughout the week which included building rockets, learning about air traffic control and how aircraft engines operate by getting an up-close look.
“I’m passionate about it and it’s important at their age,” Glenn said. “Seventh and eighth grade is really when students need to start thinking about what they want to do later in life. They don’t have to decide now, but they need to start taking classes and making the right decisions to allow them to be eligible for jobs in aviation, should they decide to go down this path later in life.”