Flight sims are more than games at KidVenture, where youths can receive loggable flight instruction from NAFI CFIs.
Since its first year at AirVenture Oshkosh 1999, KidVenture has grown steadily from a side attraction for young children to a destination for the entire family. It's like a convention within the convention.
Located at Pioneer Field across from the AirVenture Museum, KidVenture allows young people to explore aviation from several different fronts. They can receive loggable flight instruction on a simulator, earn FAA credit towards an A&P certificate through hands-on building projects, learn how to fly a radio-controlled airplane, modify a P-51 Mustang on a computer then find out how fast it flies - and that's just scratching the surface.
"KidVenture has grown as the kids attending have also grown," said Dan Majka, an EAA director who's been KidVenture chairman since its debut. "Last year we had 403 KidVenture volunteers from more than 25 different EAA chapters across the country contributing nearly 8,000 hours. This wouldn't happen without them."
KidVenture enters its 12th year at AirVenture with a new sponsor, United Technologies (UTC), and expects more than 25,000 visitors – a far cry from the 2,000 who attended the first year. Hours are 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily during AirVenture, (2 p.m. on closing day Sunday, August 1).
The Future A&P Section features five booths where kids can learn a number of different building tasks. After completing each station, kids get their card punched. When all are complete, they get a special pin, plus the FAA will provide certificates crediting two hours towards an A&P certificate.
The Riveting Booth, supported by Van's Aircraft, teaches how to buck solid rivets, using top-grade tools supplied by Avery Tools, then build a personalized badge. Those wanting to learn more can work on a real RV-12 kit donated by Van's. "In the seven days of KidVenture 2009, the kids finished both wings of the RV-12," Majka said. "This year we'll start on the fuselage and tail."
The Engine Booth is where they can take apart and put back together aircraft engines using specialized tools that they might never come into contact, from torque wrenches to spring compressors.
In the Prop-Shaping Booth, supported by Hartzell Propeller, kids take a wooden prop blank and shape it into a finished propeller. Adult KidVenture volunteers then burn the EAA and Hartzell logos into the wood, and the kids can collect autographs from aviation greats around the grounds.
The Electronic Troubleshooting Booth shows kids how to make simple wire circuits and also teaches about working with electricity.
Finally, the Wooden Rib Building Booth, supported by EAA Chapter 43 (Denver) teaches kids how to make a 20-inch wooden wing rib exactly like a homebuilder does using the same material, jigs, and tools required for a full-size rib.
The Young Eagles Flight Education area will feature 10 booths located at the center of the hangar. A series of activities focus on what a young pilot should know, including regulations, weather, navigation, human factors, air traffic control, aircraft design, pre-flight inspection, a flight lesson on a simulator and a post-flight debriefing. Kids receive a log book and can get 20 minutes of loggable flight simulator instruction from a NAFI certificated flight instructor.
Design a Better Mustang – Kids use CAD/CAM software provided by DaVinci to design a pylon racer and then race it around a virtual Reno Air Race course. Two age groups compete for daily prizes and medals.
Electric R/C (radio control) flying is geared to more mature children, but any age level is allowed to fly once they have mastered the basics. Members of the Northern Aces R/C Air Show Team run this area and allow the kids to fly a real electric powered model airplane under their guidance.
Kids can also try their hand at control line airplane flying with the gas powered airplane models. Control line experts also perform daily demonstration air shows.