Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Speaking with Students about Becoming Pilots

Last Thursday was Career Day at Greenbelt Elementary where my friend, Allison, teaches. I volunteered to talk to the students about being a pilot and spoke with two first grade classes and a fourth grade class. My favorite class was Allison's, and I'm not being bias. Ok, it's probably because one adorable boy said that he wished I could stay all day. Of course he stole my heart! All the children, even the fourth graders, were so full of awe of what it is like to fly. I would happily talk to young children over adults any time. I think the world has left many of us adults jaded with the responsibilities and costs of some careers. They don't hold the wonder that they used to.

I started each discussion about telling the children that I fly airplanes and can make it to Ocean City (a popular vacation spot around here) in under an hour in a small plane. They could not believe it! I then told the children how there are different types of pilots. Private pilots that can fly their friends and family around in good weather, instrument pilots who can fly in rain and clouds, and commercial pilots who can fly for a job. They seemed to get a decent grasp at these simple definitions. Later, when passing around sectional charts, I asked one first grade class if they could remember what kind of pilot could fly in clouds. One girl in a pink shirt at the back of the room raised her hand, so excited and confident, so I called on her.

"A musical pilot!" she replied. Both the teacher and I had to hold in a lot of laughter as to not embarrass her. I hadn't thought to explain that when I mention using instruments in the airplane, I did not mean we were strumming a guitar or playing a flute!

For the fourth grade class, I did mention that only 6% of pilots were women and they were shocked at this number. I was so happy to see this reaction out of the girls, they quickly got a determined look on their faces.

"You watch out, boys!" one girl said to the three boys at her table.

I could have spent over an hour with each class as they were full of questions, some were very good and unexpected! The most popular questions were:

1. What if you have to go to the bathroom?
2. Do you get snacks on the plane?
3. Can you fly to other countries?
4. Did you bring your plane with you?

It was such of a fun experience speaking at the school and I look forward to doing it again next year. I only had a half hour slot each class which could have easily taken an hour with all the questions and enthusiasm. Oh and we must not forget, trying on the aviation headsets! I think that was their favorite part!


  1. Good for you! I did the same at my daughter's school a few weeks ago and had an absolute blast. You've just given me great inspiration for. Blog post of my own!

  2. Aw that's great, Chris! Can't wait to read!

  3. Adorable - there's nothing like the things kids say in any situation, aviation ones included. Listening to this little brother and sister I took up on a Young Eagles ride a few years ago babble throughout the entire flight is still one of my all-time personal piloting highlights. I'd love to figure out a way to do more to get kids interested in aviation. Until then, I do my best to tell people (and everyone who so much as asks me about flying - haha) about it whenever I have an opportunity.


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