Youth Aviation Adventure helps kids realize dreams of flight

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As these boy scouts play with paper airplanes, they say they've learned so much at the Youth Aviation Adventure about the real deal.

“A plane, it's got several different functions. I never would have expected it to be as complicated as it is,” says Ethan Hoppe.

In its second year, the event featured a NASA Rocket Propulsion Engineer, Bryan Palaszewski, as its keynote speaker.

“He's just a great personable person, for what I consider a rocket scientist,” says YAA Organizer Jack Fay. “And there was just a lot of great information, and I think the kids really had a great, great time.”

From small planes, to helicopters, to space shuttles, engineers and pilots who spoke at today's event say they hope they can inspire the next generation of kids.

“It's very important for the next generation to understand the history of what's gone on in space flight and aeronautics, and this is a good way of trying to capture their imagination when the students are very young,” says Palaszewski.

“Their eyes spark when you say something,” says pilot Jessica Miller, a sophomore at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. “It's really exciting when you see that, because that's why you're here.”

Some of the kids say they had the most fun just being kids.

“It would have to be playing with the Styrofoam gliders,” says Hoppe.

Today's speakers say you never know which one would be the next rocket scientist. But Miller says she's hoping not just the little boys were inspired to fly.

“I’m one of the very few if not only women around,” she says.

With so many Girl Scouts in attendance on Saturday, Miller says she hopes she can inspire more girls to get into this field.

“It's hard to get into aviation as a female, and so I really try to encourage them that you can definitely do it, and there is a lot more support actually nowadays,” says Miller.

And boy or girl, Miller and other aviation gurus say they hope the kids have seen something today, that will help their dreams take flight.

Miller says many colleges with aviation programs, like her school, Saint Cloud State in Minnesota, offer scholarships to women and minorities who want to fly.

The Youth Aviation Adventure is in its second year. This year, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were eligible to earn badges for participating.

WEAU 13 News helped sponsor the Youth Aviation Adventure event.

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