PIERRE, S.D. - Six aviators from Ellsworth Air Force Base participated in the Third Annual Aviation Day at the Discovery Center in South Dakota’s capital Jan. 27, 2016.
Throughout the day, the Airmen helped children build toy gliders and let them try on flight suits, helmets and vests to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be an aviator.
“It’s awesome that we get to do this as a part of our job,” Capt. Christopher Ross, 34th Bomb Squadron scheduling flight officer, said. “Many of us joined the Air Force and got into aviation because it’s what we love, and it’s great to be able to share our experiences.”
While many of the kids who attended haven’t been exposed to the military, Ross explained it was a great opportunity to get them excited about their country and the Air Force.
“I remember flying remote control planes when I was younger,” Ross said. “My passion for aviation started back then, and I’m sure it’s the same for many of these kids.”
More than 80 volunteers participated in the event, which welcomed 505 children, a record breaking number for the Discovery Center.
“I speak for all the other kids when I say that everyone is having fun,” said Ian Rounds, Aviation Day participant.
Ian explained his favorite part of the event was the different types of planes they were building.
“I would love to be an aeronautical engineer when I grow up,” Ian said. “I’m a big fan of planes.”
The program, organized by the Elks Lodge, aims to inspire children to dream big and learn more about the aviation community.
“Most of these kids have never seen a plane up close, let alone fly in one,” said Steve Wegman, Aviation Day chairman. “We are trying to show these kids that they can dream big and achieve those dreams.”
He explained this event provides children with an adventure they will remember forever.
“All I want is for these kids to walk away with an enjoyable experience,” Wegman said. “Hopefully we spark the imaginations of what these kids can achieve on the way.”
The record of attendance was broken at the 2016 Aviation Day at the Discovery Center in Pierre, S.D., Jan. 27, 2016. More than 580 children from school groups, churches and the boys and girls club showed up for the event organized by the Elks Lodge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rebecca Imwalle/Released)