(age 12) of South Bend, Indiana, finished the KidVenture Future
A&P Program. Pictured with Brickley is Mr. Bill, KidVenture
instructor, Rod Hightower, future EAA president, and Dan Majka
of EAA. Photo by Mariano Rosales
What started in 1999 with about 2,000
kids and parents has grown to a kid-power convention known as
KidVenture, now boasting upward of 20,000 participants.
Guests can learn to rivet, work on an
engine, design an airplane, and more at KidVenture, located at Pioneer
There’s no age limit on the fun, so
young and old alike can take part.
Dan Majka, chairman of KidVenture, said
it’s all about the hands-on experience.
“Everything on the field is ‘look,
but don’t touch,’” Majka said. “Here, it’s ‘touch.’”
Last year, KidVenture had 403 volunteers,
putting in more than 8,000 hours of work; this year Majka expects even
more to run the 37 booths, many run by EAA chapters.
“You couldn’t do it in a day,”
Simulating and stimulating imagination
At one booth, children can use a flight simulator with the guidance
of a certified flight instructor, allowing them to log 20 minutes toward
ground instruction. Majka said this gives kids the first step, pushing
them to continue flight instruction.
Many booths are part of the Future
A&P Program, which can get participants two loggable hours toward an
Tuesday morning, 12-year-old Cheyenne
Brickley from South Bend, Indiana, became the first female to complete
the Future A&P Program after working hard for two days.
At one KidVenture booth, participants can
work on an RV-12 kit donated by Van’s Aircraft. Last year, guests
completed both wings for the aircraft; this year, they’ve started work
on the fuselage.
To learn to rivet, children can make
their own nametag by riveting KidVenture wings to an aluminum badge. “We’ll
go through at least 1,000 of those in the week,” Majka said, pointing
out that the nametags are a “hot item” at AirVenture this year.
A program with a design
At another booth, sponsored by DaVinci, participants use a professional
computer-design program to modify a plane anyway they want.
When complete, the program runs the plane
through the Reno Air Race pylon course and tells them how quickly their
modified plane completed the course. Each day, the creators of the
fastest planes from two age groups win a copy of the professional
program, worth about $300.
One booth lets kids get their hands on an
engine. “Kids today don’t really get the chance to put a wrench on
anything,” Majka said.
At another popular stop, children are
given a prop blank, which they shape down and finish. Once complete, the
prop is branded with the EAA logo, and the kids can then get the prop
autographed by aviation greats on the AirVenture grounds.
Other booths allow kids to build B-17 and
P-51 Mustang wooden models, learn to preflight an airplane, build kites,
fly remote-controlled helicopters and airplanes, build a wing rib,
cruise around in a pedal-powered F-14, and more.
Overall, Majka said it’s important to
get youth involved in aviation.
“Unless we can enthuse the youth,
[general aviation] won’t be around,” Majka said. “It exposes them
to so many things they wouldn’t possibly do on their own.”