Civil Air Patrol’s ACE Program Takes Flight

The Young Eagles Fly-In flight orientation for the Crestview area elementary school teachers incorporating the Civil Air Patrol ACE program curriculum into their classrooms was held recently at the Bob Sikes Airport in Crestview.

Currently there are three elementary schools in north Okaloosa that incorporate the ACE curriculum: Antioch Elementary, Riverside Elementary and Walker Elementary. 

“The incorporation of the ACE program has not only excited the elementary students in the area of science, but science scores are improving,” said Laura Pink, a third grade teacher at Antioch Elementary School and coordinator of the ACE program. “As a result, many educators have found a new appreciation for science.  This all coincides with the push for STEM, not only within the district, but state and nationally as well.” 

The Young Eagles Fly-In was sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association - Chapter 108.

“Normally Young Eagles consists of high school and middle school students that have an avid interest in aviation and have been taking classes at school toward science engineering or aviation,” said Pink. “This year, many elementary students at Antioch Elementary were invited to attend the fly-in.” 

Laura Pink has been teaching CHOICE: Aviation in her classroom for six years and Antioch’s entire faculty teach the ACE (Aerospace Curriculum in Education) program to their students.  Last school year Antioch was the National ACE Elementary School of the Year.  These accolades gave Antioch the opportunity to invite over twenty Antioch Aviators to fly (second-fifth grade).  These students were the youngest aviators at the fly-in. 

“The students and teachers raved about the fly-in and truly enjoyed their flying experience,” said Pink. “As a result, they will take that enthusiasm back to incorporate the experiences they had with peers.”

Attending from Antioch Elementary School were Christy Brackett, Donna Roberts, Michelle Adams, Marcy Weslowski, Elizabeth Hudson, Meredith Jones, Daphne Rivera, and Laura Pink (ACE Coordinator). From Walker Elementary were Jeanine Kirkland (principal and she flew a plane), Teri Boxberger ACE Coordinator), Susan Moore, Andi Williams, and Sandra Robinson. From Riverside Elementary School were Cecilia Madden ACE Coordinator), Haley Kirby, and Cathy Roy.

“Our teachers loved the ACE fly-in and learned so much! We teach our students the aerospace concepts during the CAP lessons, but to actually put them into practice was amazing,” said Teri Boxberger, Walker Elementary School’s ACE coordinator.  “We actually took the controls and thought about thrust, drag, gravity, lift, and all the other things we’ve learned and taught. It was fantastic! Thank you for the amazing opportunity!”

“The Fly In was fun and exciting,” said Cecilia Madden, Riverside Elementary School’s ACE program coordinator. “We were able to fly over our school and take pictures that will make our near/far lessons more meaningful for our kindergarten students!”

The fly-in took several months of preparation and involved various important organizations whose efforts were greatly appreciated.  The people behind all the preparation were EAA Chapter 108; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide director Ken Fielder from the campus in Crestview helped coordinate Young Eagle flights; Bob Sikes Airport personnel in Crestview; Civil Air Patrol (An auxiliary of the Air Force) Lt. Col. Kelly Noler with CAP FL-434/Aerospace Education Officer (helped Laura Pink coordinate the Civil Air Patrol flights for the educators). 

Special thanks also needs to go to all of the pilots from EAA Chapter 108 and additional ground crew support during the event was provided by Major Pam Becker, FL-423/Commander, Pilots for the Top Flights were Lt Col Jerry Heikkinen, FL-435/Operations Officer; and Capt. John Lawler, FL-424/Operations Officer, Steve Mozary who is an Assistant Director of Academic Support at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide and including Ken Fielder who piloted a flight for a student that was unable to attend the fly-in.

To see the True Blue Aviators slide show, click here.