Benjamin Miller shows off
the riveted nametag
he made at KidVenture 2007.
Kids still love airplanes! The proof is in EAA
AirVenture's KidVenture area, which in 10 years has grown eleven-fold since
first opening in 1999. Organizers are looking to build on that success at
KidVenture's home on EAA's Pioneer Airport this year.
"Last year we had about 22,000 kids and
parents coming through, and we're expecting more this year," said Dan
Majka, who's been KidVenture's chairman since its inception. That's a far cry
from the inaugural year in 1999, when 500 people were expected and 2,000 showed
Many established activities from past years will
return, like control-line flying, kite building, lots of simulators, and prop
forming, to name just a few. The focus remains on having fun while discovering
knowledge and basic skills about several aspects of aviation.
For example, in the NAFI (National Association
of Flight Instructors) Logbook area, there will be 10 stations where kids can
learn from certificated flight instructors (NAFI members and FAA staff) on all
the phases of flight operations, from pre-flighting an airplane to landing.
Once all 10 stations have been completed - including a flight on a certified
flight simulator - kids get signed off in their logbook. "This is actual
loggable time as ground instruction," Majka said.
New for this year will be a Junior A&P program highlighting some of the
mechanical aspects of flight. "We're expanding this area with up to five
additional booths where the kids will learn hands-on skills using tools they
might not have access to at home," Majka said. "A&Ps will show
them how they do things."
Van's Aircraft and Avery Tools will again
support the riveting demos where kids can practice building what's become one
of the hottest items on the AirVenture grounds in recent years; riveted name
badges. "They get to make their badges at KidVenture," Majka said.
"You can't buy them; you have to make them here."
Longtime volunteer Bed
Herod of EAA Chapter 790, Barrington, Illinois, sticks a firebrand on a
propeller shaped by Max Burlingame of Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
KidVenture has also received two BD-5 kits Majka
said would be put to good use. "We're going to have the kids actually work
on some of the parts during the convention," he explained. "We'll
show them how to construct a real airplane in the riveting area with solid and
Other new features in the Junior A&P area
include an engine shop where kids can take apart and put back together an
actual 4-cylinder aircraft engine; and an avionics section, where they can
solder, wire things, and see what avionics technicians do. Once through these
new stations they'll get a "Junior A&P" endorsement in their
There will also be plenty of computer flight
simulators for kids to try, including the popular Hotseat Flight Sims that
provide a realistic wide-screen experience with vibrating seats and
surround-sound. At least three of the advanced units will be set up throughout
the week. "The tough thing," Majka joked, "will be keeping the
adults off of them."
An AirVenture attendee
received instruction from one of the volunteer CFIs at KidVenture 2007.
DaVinci Technologies will support a booth where
kids can design a pylon air racer like those that fly at Reno. On the computer,
they'll start with a stock P-51 Mustang and modify the wings, and the fore
& aft sections. Then the computer will make the adjustments and do a
simulated flight around a virtual Reno Air Race course, calculating how fast
the airplane would fly a lap. Times will be posted each day, with the fastest
time of the day receiving a prize.
Majka said they're also attempting to obtain use
of a three-dimensional printer that would create a plastic model of the
"The kids really love this because it's
creating a new airplane like a designer would. They also tend to come back day
after day with design improvement ideas, then try to win again."
Meet aviation personalities
Not only will the IAC (International Aerobatic Club) booth have a Christen
Eagle on display, where kids can sit in the cockpit, but AirVenture air show
pilots will also appear throughout the week to talk to kids face-to-face, about
aerobatics and aerobatic flying.
The KidVenture Hero Stage will again showcase
numerous notable aviation personalities. This year the facility also gets an
upgrade by expanding inside one of the Pioneer Airport hangars. Majka is still
working out the speaker's schedule, so stay tuned for more information.
One of the more popular KidVenture activities is
radio-controlled (RC) flying, but in years past it's been mostly a spectator
sport. This year the kids get to try them out themselves thanks to the use of
"buddy boxes." Students will be able to hold and operate RC
transmitters and fly the airplanes, while instructors stand by with other boxes
that can override the students' to prevent crashes.
More KidVenture features:
- Pedal planes-an all-jet fleet of F-14s for the
- Stomp Rockets - which use compressed air and
foot power to propel rockets to heights of 200 feet
- Control line model flying-about 3,000 kids
annually take part.
- Artist booth - prizes every day for the best
drawings in several age categories.
- Cockpit climb areas - Most things on the
convention grounds are considered, "Look, but don't touch." Well,
at KidVenture, kids are encouraged to touch airplanes and get into the
cockpits, including a ¾-scale Mustang; J-3 Link Trainer; T-28 cockpit;
F-100 cockpit; BD-5; Sirocco; Prescott Pusher; and a DC-3.
Volunteers make it happen
To make such an ambitious schedule work, KidVenture boasts some 400
volunteers - the second largest single volunteer group of the convention. There
are more than 25 EAA chapters from throughout the country represented in that
total. "It's a massive effort, but we have a terrific crew," Majka
said. "They really display great teamwork, and this would not be possible
Now that KidVenture is turning 10 years old,
Majka is beginning to see volunteers from the ranks of past attendees. Some
attended as kids and want to join the crew, he said. One girl actually told her
mother she would rather come to Oshkosh and volunteer at KidVenture than go to
Disneyworld. (Wisconsin law requires volunteers to be 14 years old.)
Hours: 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily, except for
Sunday, August 3, where things close down at 2 p.m.
Getting there: A dedicated bus goes to
and from AirVenture from the main bus tower area during operating hours.
Another transportation option: take the museum shuttle and walk across the
Pioneer Airport turf runway, which is inactive for the convention.