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Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:23 am
by jackhodgson
Email from Listener: Mitch from KBED:

Hi Jack

I have a question I'd love to hear you guys discuss. I grew up in England and when I was 7 years old I picked up a Biggles book. These books are now out of favor probably due to some rather insensitive racial terms that were obviously considered acceptable in the 40s and 50s. But they were wonderful stories of aviation daring-do. Heroes and villains, adventure and mystery, just the sort of thing to get a 7 year old boys blood racing. As soon as I read this first book, Biggles and the Flight of the Condor, I was hooked. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a pilot. By the time I was 8 or 9 I'd read every aviation book in the library and knew the difference between aileron and elevator, pitch and yaw. I became short-sighted at the age of 14 and so that was the end of my Royal Air Force career before it even started. But I did manage to get my PPL eventually.

Now I have three kids, a boy and 2 girls, aged 13, 11 and 9. I've only recently started flying again and so they've only been up with me once or twice. They like to go flying but they don't have the passion for it that I did at age 7. If it was a choice between flying and lunch at McDonalds I'm not sure which way they would go!

So here's my question. What books are there out there today that would excite the passion of a youngster? I don't want to push my kids to fly if they're not into it but I'd love to give them the opportunity I had to find a passion that has endured for me for almost 40 years.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Still loving the podcast and catching up on the old stuff but listening to the new stuff as it comes out.

All the best

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 9:27 am
by jackhodgson

Interesting question. I've added it to the "list" for 110, although that list is already loaded so it may not rise to the top until later.

I'll be interested to hear what the Forum crowd has to say though.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:15 am
by PilotBillFromTexas
Kids aren't reading books like they used to. There are tv channels dedicated to them, there are video games, there are social web site, etc... all of these things compete for waking hours that could have been used to read.

I know that with my kids and from what I see, kids are involved with more organized activities than ever before. It's good that kids are occupied with useful activities but bad because the process of discovery suffers somewhat. They just choose from the menu served to them then order off of that menu. If aviation never makes it onto the menu then they don't get to choose that option or don't find it until after they are already into something else.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 6:00 am
by CASR139
If we can open it up to things not book related -

What about an orgaised activity like air force cadets (I'm sure they are called something similar in the US)? In Australia we have at least two similar groups - one is aligned with our air force. The other is not but still has a military bent. A lot of our scout groups are also aligned with aero-clubs.

Over the last couple of years, motor racing in Oz seems to have captured young kids hearts. So why not expose the kids to aviation events that are a lot like motor racing. I'm thinking about the red bull air race (Its all we get in Oz but you guys have a few other similar events, don't you?).

I must be doing something right at the moment though - this morning my two year (turned two yesterday so we had to pay for his seat for the first time :( ) got off a very early morning flight in Brisbane but as soon as we could see other aircraft, he wanted to go back up in another "plane"! He hit the roof when we got in a taxi.


Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Mon Dec 01, 2008 1:34 pm
by jackhodgson
I'm remembering that one of the earliest episodes of Steve Tupper's "Airspeed" podcast which caught my attention, way back when, was entitled, "Take Your Kids to the Airport" ... rport.html

Check it out.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:00 pm
by champguy
I got a chance to take a kid up the other day for his first flight. It was fun. I let him try all the controls, fly for a bit, take a stab at a dutch role, and demonstrated slow flight while only describing what a stall would be like if we kept it up. Got him reoriented and brought him back to his folks.
I was out of town with my phone turned off, so it was time to head back over the mountain. What a great day.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 12:36 am
by PilotBillFromTexas
I took my two nephews up on their first flights over Thanksgiving. I spared them the lecture about the Bernoulli effect and just went out and flew. I did the same thing, steep turns, stalls, etc... They loved it.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 8:59 am
by jackhodgson
Of course, what you guys describe is very much like the EAA's "Young Eagles" program which has been encouraging pilots in giving kids their first airplane rides for over ten years. The program supports pilots with educational materials & certificates for the kids, and "the worlds largest logbook", at the museum in Oshkosh, where the kids can look up their first ride.

I love the YE program and have participated in it from the very beginning, but I've always wondered what the stats are on how many Young Eagles went on to become pilots.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 9:27 am
by PilotBillFromTexas
I don't know. It's more about sewing seeds than anything else. I haven't done it yet but, I've signed up for Young Eagles at my EAA chapter. I'm looking forward to it.

I'm also going to be running a CAP Cadet Orientation Day this month. This will be my first time running one. The excitement from both the kids and the parents is really infectious. Lots of fun.

Even if some kids find out that flying is absolutely nothing that they are interested in then that's okay. I think that it is much more likely that we'll give experiences that will stick with them for a lifetime. The kids that are attracted to these things already have some level of interest. If nothing else then we'll create some enthusiasts who will "get it" when they are older and voting.

Re: Getting kids passionate about flying

Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:44 am
by lucaberta
Quick reference to a must-see that I am sure most of you guys have seen numerous time, like I did. One Six Right.

The playground on the side of 16L at VNY, with the kids playing on little airplanes. No such thing here in Europe, as far as I know.

As a kid, I remember being taken by my dad (a glider pilot in the 1950s) sunday mornings to the Linate airport (LIML) observation deck, where we could see arrivals and departures of commercial planes. That same observation deck has been closed for at least 30 years for terrorist fears.

And most GA airports around here have fences, and often rude and look-how-cool-I-am aeroclub pilots who spend most time at the bar instead of being up in the air flying...

It's difficult to expose kids to flying these days. Even more so if, like in my case, you have no kids! :D

Ciao, Luca