EAA Advanced Air Academy

Amy Whelan

The EAA Advanced Air Academy was one of the most impactful experiences in my aviation career. This nine day camp taught me more than I ever could have imagined about flying. We had a great deal of exposure to fun activities such as flying a Cessna 152, flying in a Bell helicopter, and building hands on projects. We learned from college students who are working on aviation related degrees, and they were able to connect with us and pass down what they are learning in school. We finished our amazing week by being let loose and attending AirVenture, the biggest air show in the world.

The camp days were split into two parts: workshop and ground school. There were many hands on activities that I could only get at this camp. The first half of the day was dedicated to workshop, and once we got there on the first day we were split into small groups. My group for that day learned about aviation science with topics like weight and balance, electricity, and safety wiring. After trying to safety wire I realized that it is definitely harder than it looks.

The second day in the workshop we did the composites station. There we made a foam wing and knee board. To make the foam wing we used a hot wire to cut a brick of foam. To make the clipboard we had a slab of marble that we waxed to layer all the supplies, then we laid down fiberglass and alternated epoxy glue on top of it. The second to last layer we placed a design fabric that would be on the clipboard. We then had to wait a day for the layers to dry and harden, so we came in early the next morning to cut it to size and sand it and then riveted the clip on.

The third project we did was a wooden wing rib. We used a template to cut all the pieces to the correct size and then glued a small wooden square where the two pieces of wood would come together. To secure the wood and glue we used a staple gun to staple over the places where we put glue. We then waited for the glue to dry. After it dried we removed all the staples and sanded around the whole wing rib. The counselor who instructed us on how to make the wing rib then took us out to the museum and showed us different planes and where the wing rib was and all the possible different sizes of them. It was interesting to be able to construct a piece of a plane then see where it would be used in an actual plane.

Another hands-on activity we did was making a spark plug holder. We started with sheets of metal. Then we sanded them and used a step drill to cut holes in them. We then bent the metal to make a box and then riveted the bottom of the box on. The last hands-on activity we did was welding. The goal at the end was to weld a box that could hold water. We started out with welding straight bends and then went to welding pieces together with rod. Finally we used all of our acquired skills to weld the whole box together, and mine achieved the goal of holding water. These projects are something I may never have had the opportunity to do had it not been for this camp. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

The second part of each day was spent in the classroom. We learned about a lot of topics you would not normally think about. The classes were taught by the counselors, and usually what they were teaching was related to the degree that they themselves have been working towards. It was refreshing to learn from someone not that much older than myself so that they were able to connect with me and provide a deeper understanding.

The first day we did an exercise with weight and balance and learned how to plan a cross country flight. It was a lot of fun, and later on we had an even cooler event where we got to fly the cross country plan we made earlier in the day on a flight simulator. The second day was about aerodynamics and how every part of the plane helps it to fly. We got into more depth and physics than you would normally think goes into flying.

The next day we went over airport finance and the money it would take to run an airport. We went over how different size airports make more or less money and how they could make more money. The fourth day we learned about airport management and how an airport needs all these people to properly function. It was neat to see the difference from the small airport I fly out of versus the big regional airports.

The last day we learned about aero-med and how flight can affect a person’s body. We got to watch a video on hypoxia and all the symptoms it can cause as well as how to help someone if they panic when being in the air. We also learned the different types of medical licenses and what kind you need to fly what plane. Having the classroom experiences was very beneficial in broadening my knowledge of aviation.

The program focused on two critical delivery methods of aviation: workshop and ground school. The projects that I was able to produce there were one of a kind. The people I met and the friends I made at the camp will carry everlasting memories. The information I obtained there has helped me grow in my aviation field and inspired me even more to pursue my aviation goals.

I appreciate that I was given the opportunity to represent my chapter at the EAA Advanced Air Academy. I would like to truly thank every person who helped me get to this camp.