LOUISVILLE, Ky. - More than 50 Louisville-area youth spent June 15 visiting the 123rd Airlift Wing to learn about career opportunities in military aviation and the Kentucky National Guard.
The day's events, which included orientation flights on a Kentucky Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport plane and static tours of a Kentucky Army National Guard UH-60 Black hawk helicopter, were the culmination of the week-long Summer Aviation Career Education Academy, a local summer camp that focuses on instilling an interest in aviation in young people.
"The mission is to educate, proliferate and stimulate interest in the aerospace community," said Air Force Lt. Col. Jeff Harrison, a C-130 pilot with the Kentucky Air Guard.
The camp exposed the students, who ranged in age from sixth-graders to high school seniors, to many aviation opportunities, Harrison said. Earlier in the week, the students trained in a flight simulator, visited the air traffic control tower at Louisville International Airport and logged flying time at Bowman Field that can be applied toward a private pilots' license.
The visit to the Kentucky Air Guard began with the students' being welcomed by Maj. Gen. Edward. W. Tonini, adjutant general of the Kentucky National Guard, who encouraged them to consider careers in the Kentucky Guard. Next, they received briefings on aircrew flight equipment and aircraft safety before touring the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron and boarding a C-130 for a local training sortie.
One student, Adam Ackermann, said he's been participating in the program for the past three summers and credits the camp with instilling a love of aviation.
"I got into this camp three years ago, and that really made me want to be a pilot," Ackermann said. "I want to fly the C-130, and it makes me more interested every year because there is always something different to learn about."
The Kentucky National Guard has supported the aviation camp for 15 years, Harrison said.