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Sunday, September 16, 2018



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Kids In Aviation program offers youth a chance to fly

Kids In Aviation program offers youth a chance to fly

The Experimental Aviation Association or EAA is excited to promote the fascinating world of aviation to our youth.

The local chapter of EAA, located at the Houma airport, has been implementing a program called Kids In Aviation, to teach kids the ins and outs of flight.

The architects of this program are a couple of EAA members, Director Tim Rochel and Assistant Director/Historian Newton Boudreaux.

The pair were looking for ways to get kids more hands on experience in aviation which eventually led them to working together with the Terrebonne Parish school system to develop a lesson plan for 5th and 6th graders to take class trips to the Houma airport.

Over the years the program has grown to include the Terrebonne Parish School for Exceptional Children along with high school students.

“We already had a program that let kids fly for free but we wanted something that we could reach more children in our schools and bring them out and let them experience aviation,” said Rochel.

“We took what was just a tour around the base and turned it into an educational program,” said Boudreaux.

The program consists of one part lecture based and one part real world experience. Lectures take place at the Houma-Terrebonne Airport Commission, where the kids learn the physics behind the aviation, along with other crucial aspects of becoming a pilot such as learning to make flight plans.

There is a mural of the history of the Houma airport painted all around the top of the meeting room, which helps when it comes to the aviation history lessons.

“We also do lectures out here in the field, then we take them around the airplanes and show them how to do a pre-flight on an airplane, how an airplane works. We take the information that we give them in the classroom and then demonstrate it on an actual real-live airplane,” said Boudreaux.

Like all of the public programs the EAA offers the Kids in Aviation is a free of charge, non-profit program. The program is funded through the generosity of the EAA members who give their time and equipment to further the education of our youth.

The members have reached out to the Lafourche Parish schools to spread the program here, however, it appears that it will be too difficult for the Lafourche Parish schools to transport their students to the airport. The EAA are dedicated to spreading education in aviation and intend to hold an event at each of the Lafourche Parish public airports this school year. Rochel says that they are ready with a program along with people who will donate classrooms and aircraft if Lafourche Parish decides to adopt the program.

The EAA’s chapter here is part of a national organization. They are a non-profit organization whose mission is the promotion of aviation activities and to educate the public about aviation.

“You go to an EAA member and ask them why they’re here and the answer is they love airplanes and that’s it. I think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread myself,” said Rochel.

The local EAA chapter holds regular meetings on the first Tuesday of every month. You can visit their website at www.513.EAAChapter.org.

Rochel expressed that they are very welcoming to anyone interested in joining. “You have to be breathing. I mean we’re here to promote aviation not limit it.”

A second program that the EAA will be holding is their Annual Cajun Fly-In event. It will be a family friendly open house at the airport open to the public and free to attend. This event will also take place at the Houma airport this fall, on Saturday, October 17, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.

Visitors will be able to help themselves to free food while they learn about aviation and walk among the various aircrafts on display such as airplanes, helicopters, and jets.

“It’s like a car show for airplanes,” said Rochel.

One particular sight that will be sure to amaze the visitors will be a remade F-16 military jet that the EAA has acquired. The F-16 had come to them dismantled six years ago. Donors have provided the funds to get it here from Arizona and a local engineering company, T. Baker Smith, has provided the engineering for the assembly.

Their goal is to place the F-16 on a pedestal on Main St. next to their new office.

It has been one of their longest and proudest projects.