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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedKidVenture Marks 10th Anniversary in 2008!

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 up.

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 attractions
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 pop rivets."

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 logbooks.

Simulators galore

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 winners' designs.

"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 smaller kids
  • 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 without them."

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.


FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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