Concrete that is over 75 years old is hard and difficult to remove, but Steve Blount, one of our EAA Chapter 1240 members and father of EAA Flight Scholarship student Nicole, found a way. As I worked in the hangar this past week, I felt the ground shake and heard the roar of a large front-end loader armed with forked teeth and hydraulic clamp struggle to break up the concrete. He was creating a place for the foundation of our extended addition to the EAA Chapter 1240 Aviation Development Center.
There is now a big hole in the ground where there once was “Vintage” concrete that was poured during WW II as our airport was Hendricks Field and a primary training base for B-17 crews. As you walk around the flight line and look closely, you can see the old foundation lines and other indications that something big was once there.
There are many embedded anchors that are flush with the surface that we still use today to tie down our aircraft. Many times, when I have used them, I wondered what type of WWII aircraft used the same anchor and parked in the same place. You cannot, and should not, forget what happened here 75 years ago.
History in many ways is an understanding of perspective. What you remember, what you have learned about the past, and how its related to our present day to day lives. Personally, I have become more attuned with WW II history and the B-17 bomber crew training through the many days I spend at the airport working with EAA and our high school aviation/aerospace program.
What I think is an interesting contrast is standing on 75-year-old concrete and looking to the east to see the plum trail of a rocket launch from Cape Kennedy. How far we have come. Where will we be in another 75 years?
I hope we will be in good hands. I’m confident we will as I see the excitement and desire to explore Aviation and Aerospace in the eyes of our students. Last Wednesday the word of the day was “perspective.” I asked what it was, what can it do for a person, and why was it important to “keep things in perspective.” The responses were spot on and I could tell we hit on something.
The class then viewed a film, “Living in the Age of Airplanes” which took them on a journey of over 5,000 years of human exploration and settlement, and how in just a short amount of time of the last 100 years, the airplane has changed the world and the people in it. We also spent time understanding the Experimental Aircraft Association’s role in our community partnership with the school board and Sebring Airport to offer the high school program and what it could mean to each student involved.
I asked our students what the response has been was from others outside the program. Many indicated it was a surprise that this kind of program was being offered and many wished they could have joined the program. One student shared that when he described to another student outside the program what we were doing and the content being covered, he was told to “use smaller words!”
That was a clear indication we are doing something right. Aviation and aerospace have their own language, terms and definitions that are specific to an area or technology. This is common to many technical and specialized fields. Our students know the meaning of terms such as dihedral, aspect ratio, chord line, leading and trailing edges, clecos, numbered and dimensional drill bit sizes, Downwind, Base and Final legs of an airport traffic pattern.
When you read this, we will have completed another two days of work understanding the different roles of aircraft and exploring how they are made. There will be more “big words” to add to the new language they are learning, and even more important is their application of the terms as they work on building an aircraft.