Teens rise to new heights in Winston-Salem

Teens rise to new heights in Winston-Salem
July 09
00:00 2015

In above photo: A student pilot in training is on the plane as it lands during the ACE Academy in Winston-Salem on July 3. (Photo by Erin Mizelle for The Chronicle)

They learn about aviation industry

By Todd Luck for The Chronicle

Teens began last week with a flight simulator and ended it in a cockpit, flying over the Smith Reynolds Airport, as part of the final day of the Jim Shaw Aviation Career Education (ACE) Academy on Friday, July 3.
The teens flew around the airport and landed in single-engine planes with the help of certified flight instructors from Piedmont Flight Training.
It was the culmination of ACE Academy, which introduced high school students last week, and middle school students the week before, to the inner workings of aviation.
This is the fifth year for the local ACE Academy, one of several aviation summer camps held around the state, sponsored by the NorthCarolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation.
Airport Commissioner Jim Shaw, who began the local program, said the camp shows young people the multitude of possibilities in aviation.
“If these kids can get some experience and education in aviation, they can become directors of airports, assistant directors of airports, they can become anything they want to in aviation.”
The local camp costs less than $100 for the week, while other ACE Academies can run from $150 to $350.
There are also scholarships available for those who can’t pay.
Shaw said this is thanks to corporate donations and said he wanted to give every family the opportunity to experience the camp regardless of income.
Tony Colburn, director of the local ACE Academy, is an old hand at teaching aviation to youth, since he teaches the subject at Ibraham Elementary School.
He said the demand for pilots is greater than it’s ever been.
In recent years, the aviation industry, including cargo and passenger air service, has voiced growing concerns if there are enough qualified pilots for the amount of flights.
“It’s a growing, growing industry,” he said. “Everyone is saying we’re not going to have enough pilots.”
But beyond pilots, the camp also introduced the youth to others who help make flying possible, including mechanics, airport management and a former flight attendant.
They got insight into aviation design as they built their own model airplanes and rockets.
On Friday, when they weren’t taking to the air, they even got to get a look inside the airport’s control tower to see how it operates.
But the highlight on the last day was definitely the flying.
“It ’s a very cool experience; you feel almost weightless,” said DJ Musser, 14. “You’re just up there, and everything you see from here that looks big, looks so small and it’s just an awesome feeling.”
This is the second year DJ, along with his brother Wade, 12, have taken the camp.
The brothers said they were drawn to ACE Academy by their interest in aviation and came back to learn even more while figuring what careers they want to pursue in the field.
They both said they’d be back next year.
For Mariana and Grant McCone, both 14, it was their first time in the camp.
Their mom, Elaine McCone, learned about the camp through an interview Shaw did on a local newscast.
She said she called the camp’s number before the segment was over to sign her children up.
Grant is interested in aviation and interested in flying jets in the military.
He said he was glad to have his first experience inside a cockpit.
“It makes me feel confident about flying by myself,” he said.
Mariana is an aspiring surgeon but participated with her brother to try something new. She said she learned a great deal.
“I recommend it if you don’t even want to be in the aviation careers, you should just do it any way,” she said. “It’s a lot fun.”
Elaine McCone said it was well worth waking up early every morning and driving from her home in Greensboro.
“it was a wonderful experience, and I’m so glad they wanted to do it,” she said. “And they’ve enjoyed it every single day.”

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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