By Sherry Niederkorn, EAA Lifetime 1277308
The summer of 2022 proved to be a busy one for EAA Chapter 5 at the Geauga County Airport in Middlefield, Ohio. In addition to serving pancakes to hundreds of aviation enthusiasts, raffling off a custom-made airplane mailbox, hosting a Flying Start Event for adults who want to learn to fly, having several social events for chapter members, hearing presentations from local meteorologists and air traffic controllers, and holding the third Summer Youth Aviation Camp for middle school students, the chapter also found time to sponsor four of those alumni campers to the Air Academy Camp in Oshkosh.
The four campers who were selected to attend the Air Academy Camps are Liam Amundson (from Eastlake), Luke Shipman (from North Bloomfield), Bridget Bellett (from Chesterland), and Wesly Wilkes (from Montville). These campers were originally slated to attend the Oshkosh camp in 2020 and 2021, but due to the pandemic, their participation was delayed until the 2022 sessions.
Liam attended the Young Eagle Air Academy camp from June 20-24. Liam loves aviation and wants to be an airline pilot in the future. He was excited to wake up and look out at the airport every morning of the camp. He learned how rockets and gliders work. He also had “cool experiences” during the week such as flying twice in single-engine airplanes and taking a ride in an open-door helicopter. The flight simulators at camp filled the void when not in the air. Liam says, “It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will never forget.”
Luke attended the Basic Air Academy camp from July 5-10. Luke went to camp to learn about and to fly airplanes. During his initiation flight with an instructor, Luke was given the controls of the Cessna 162 Skycatcher. Luke claims that “time flies when you’re having fun” as the 30-minute flight felt like only 5 minutes. Luke practiced his skills at “taking off” on the Redbird Simulators (from any airport of his choice). During the week, campers were taken to the EAA Museum in Oshkosh to get an up-close look at the airplanes, from the Voyager to the Wright Flyer replica. He even got to sit in the P-51 which belonged to EAA founder Paul Poberezny. Luke likened the camp to the movie Top Gun, as campers were involved in bonding activities in addition to their aviation sessions, such as whiffle ball, football, Frisbee, spike ball, and soccer. Aviation-related activities included balsa gliders and pressurized rockets. While working in the workshop, Luke made some wing ribs and instrument cases fitted with clocks. Luke is appreciative of the amazing experience that EAA gave him and the opportunity to continue his life in aviation.
Bridget and Wesly attended the Advanced Air Academy camp from July 29-August 6. Both also attended the EAA Chapter 5 Annual “Year in Review” program meeting on Monday, November 21 to give chapter members a snapshot of the Air Academy camp experience.
Wesly recognizes the fact that the camp “relit a passion for aviation” in him. He learned a lot at the camp including the study of composites, metalcraft, and woodworking. He says that he “found the composites to be the hardest, as you had to constantly work the material. Even if all goes right, there can still be flaws.” The camp’s presentation on zeppelins was most fascinating and remembers hearing that the downfall of a zeppelin is its size, as it could not handle the weather well. Wesly thanked EAA Chapter 5 for providing this opportunity as he has met a variety of other campers and has learned a great deal more about aviation.
Bridget said that “the Advanced Air Academy was an amazing experience that enhanced my understanding of many topics greatly.” At the program meeting, Bridget described the accommodations at the camp with four campers to a room in the cabin, where she had the opportunity to meet campers from all over the United States. She also had the chance to work with a diverse staff who were pilots, aerospace engineers, and A&Ps. During the sheet metal workshop, Bridget enjoyed working with the finger break, the deburring tool, the stamp, the hydro pump and the two different types of rivets. After learning about welding, Bridget tried her hand at lines, corners, and beads on a metal pencil box. Experienced welders in the chapter noticed what a good job she did with her first weld. Being in Oshkosh during AirVenture week, gave Bridget the opportunity to walk around Air Venture to see the vintage aircraft, jets, and warbirds. Other campers made a favorable impression as they were all willing to share information and answer questions for her. “I feel very lucky that I was able to have this experience. It was an honor to sit in a classroom with people who will likely be the future of the aviation industry. I know I learned a lot and am looking forward to applying the skills and knowledge I gained at the Air Academy to many other situations in life,” stated Bridget.