KidVenture marks 10th
can get their simulator time logged into their My First Logbook
at KidVenture, celebrating its 10th year at EAA AirVenture
this year. Photo by Hillary Lawrence
Kids love airplanes! The
proof is in EAA AirVenture’s KidVenture area, which in 10 years has
grown elevenfold since first opening in 1999. Organizers are looking to
build on that success at KidVenture’s home on EAA’s Pioneer Airport
"Last year we had
about 22,000 kids and parents coming through, and we’re expecting more
this year," says 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.
activities from past years will return, like control-line flying, kite
building, flight 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 preflighting an airplane to landing. Once all 10 stations have been
completed—including a flight on an On Top basic aviation training
device (ATD)—kids get signed off in their own "My First
Logbook." Both the ATDs and logbooks are provided by Aviation
Supplies & Academics.
New for this year will be
a Junior A&P (airframe and powerplant) area 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 says.
"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 says. "You can’t
buy them; you have to make them here."
KidVenture has also
received two BD-5 kits that will be put to good use as kids actually
work on some of the parts during the convention. They’ll construct a
real airplane in the riveting area with solid and blind 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 four-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.
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 and 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."
Aerobatic Club booth will have a Christen Eagle on display, where kids
can sit in the cockpit, plus AirVenture air show pilots will appear
throughout the week and talk to kids about aerobatics and aerobatic
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
This year kids get to try
radio-controlled (RC) flying out themselves thanks to the use of
"buddy boxes," which allow instructors standing by to take
over to prevent crashes.
More KidVentures features
- Pedal planes: An
all-jet fleet of F-14s for the smaller kids.
- Stomp rocket: Kids use
compressed air and foot power to propel rockets to heights of 200
- 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 three-fourths 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
KidVenture boasts some
400 volunteers—the second largest single volunteer group of the
convention. More than 25 EAA chapters from throughout the country are
represented. "It’s a massive effort, but we have a terrific
crew," Majka says. "They really display great teamwork, and
this would not be possible without them."
With KidVenture turning
10 this year, Majka is starting to see volunteers who previously
attended as kids.
KidVenture Hours: 9 a.m.
to 3:30 p.m. daily, except for Sunday, August 3, when it closes at 2
Getting there: A
dedicated bus goes to and from KidVenture 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 during the convention.