Thanks to everyone who came out last month to make Redmond Area Park and Recreation District’s first annual Aviation Day event a success! Nearly 300 kids and their families came out to enjoy the warm, sunny day and clear, blue September sky, and a fairgrounds packed with aviation crafts and activities.
We want to thank all our participants who spent hours introducing Redmond kids to the local aviation industry and hobbies and the importance of learning and being curious about science, technology, engineering, and math subjects in and out of school. The Bend and Sisters Experimental Aviation Association Chapters spread the word about their Young Eagles programs, which pair kids up with experienced pilots to go for free flights and learn about piloting aircraft. The Warm Springs Test Range represented one of only six federal drone test ranges in the country. Sisters Airport and Sisters High School came with some students involved in the high school’s Flight Science program, where high school students can earn their pilot’s licenses as part of the curriculum.
Redmond’s Field of Dreams RC Club brought a collection of radio controlled aircraft to show kids how they can enjoy aviation-related hobbies right in town.
Volunteers from the Central Oregon STEM Hub helped little builders construct trucks, bug cages, and flower pots from Kids Build kits donated by Home Depot.
In the drone building, Paul Povey from Povey Surveying showed off the professional drones he uses in his local family company, and Kevin Siverston from the Central Oregon Community College Aviation Program ran a drone camp for all ages to learn to operate real drones and practice their skills on drone flight simulators. Thanks to Jim Bull of Central Oregon Sound and Security, parents could watch their kids perform acrobatic maneuvers on the simulators projected onto the big screen.
Although kids as young as 4 got a chance to give the drones a try, the big machines were the most popular with the younger set. Redmond Fire and Rescue brought their aircraft fire truck, a 90,000 pound neon green beast, and kids could climb in the cabin and touch the controls, and touch the hoses and other equipment along the outside of the vehicle. Redmond Airport contributed a huge bright yellow snowplow, usually charged with thundering down the runways keeping the airport clear of snow and ice.
AirLink sent a helicopter and crew to dramatically land at the event and talk about their exciting jobs saving lives. With the help of these participant businesses and organizations, RAPRD was able to stoke the STEM curiosity of Redmond youth and introduce them to the many local outlets for an interest in aviation.
We especially want to thank our local sponsors, Redmond Athletic Club and Hooray Café for making Aviation Day possible. We are fortunate in Redmond to have local business owners so invested in our community and offering fun recreation opportunities for Redmond kids. “It is so important for businesses to support their community,” says Branegan Dixon of Redmond Athletic Club (the RAC). With all the outreach and volunteers we have that step up to donate their time and resources, the community should be able to lean on local business.”
Dixon, who has an 8 year old and a 2 year old, was drawn to Aviation Day in particular, he says, because “I think it is important to stimulate the minds of our youth. Exposure to different jobs, careers and possibilities out there that kids might not otherwise experience is fantastic. With these types of events, the kids get a chance to challenge themselves and get a feel for something different and fun.” Dixon and his wife, Tasha, brought their kids to Aviation Day and he was pleased with how the event turned out. “The kids really enjoyed flying the drone and getting inside of the helicopter and fire truck.” For families who didn’t manage to make it out this year, Dixon says, “I would say check it out next year. As a first annual event, they did a great job in set up and organization. I can only imagine the experience will be more and more enjoyable each year.”
Ken Streater, who runs Hooray Café, a website dedicated to featuring good news stories and a platform for communities to connect and do good, found in Aviation Day a chance to further his mission of community building. “Hooray Cafe and The Goodness Sake Project are dedicated to illustrating what is good about us and to foster even more goodness. Aviation Day allowed people to connect, to see each other in a positive, creative, and rewarding setting, and to realize how much that community organizations like RAPRD mean to a flourishing place to live.”
A speaker and author, Streater explains his belief that the community is “the source for fairness and good.” As such, Streater believes that “all business owners should support organizations like RAPRD that help form the flavor and character of a community. When we support these kinds of activities, we are supporting our own by expanding our compassion circle to include and enrich more people.” Aviation Day, he says, and other community recreation events, “help create a diverse, knowledgeable, playful, creativity, and collaborative populace. Events like these empower those who want to learn more in and do more with their lives, be they children or adults. “
In addition to these moral and philosophical views, Streater’s personal experience as a dad and an RAPRD volunteer led him to see Aviation Day as a piece of the mosaic of activities RAPRD provides in the Redmond community. “Each child has a unique set of goals, skills and concerns. There is no box they fit into. Trust me, as the father of three very unique individuals I experience this every day. So, RAPRD is spot on in creating a palette of opportunities for kids and adults from all walks of life to participate in. Aviation Day is an example of this, as is youth soccer and horseback riding and painting. To give our citizens an opportunity to find what they like and then grow with this is invaluable.”
RAPRD plans to continue the tradition of Aviation Day next year and we have already received positive and constructive feedback from many of the participants and families who attended. One mom pointed out that balloons near the entrance would make it easier to locate the event at the fairgrounds. This is a fantastic idea and we’ll definitely onboard it for next year. The RC club has indicated an interest in bringing more and even bigger RC planes, and perhaps organizing a demonstration of their different radio controlled aircraft in the outside lawn space.
Because of this year’s amazing turnout, we did run low on drones at the end of the day. Next year we’ll be sure to have more drones on hand for when units crash or need to be re-synched to controllers. If you are interested in supporting next year’s event, a donation of $35 will purchase one drone for kids to learn and play with. See our donation page here. If you went to Aviation Day this year and you’d like to submit a comment for us to review in preparation for next year, and/or if you’d like to be on our interest list for future drone activities, feel free to send us an email.
We are grateful for everyone’s support for our first annual Aviation Day event and we are looking forward to seeing you all again next fall for an even bigger and better event!