Local youth learn aviation basics at Louisiana Regional Airport

Gina Zanutto
Several ACE students review a model airport while standing in an airplane hanger at Louisiana Regional Airport. Red shirts were the signature style of each camp member, including instructors.

Airport officials recently invited Gonzales-area youth to participate in a week-long aviation camp, called ACE – Aviation?Career Education.

“This is actually our first year, and to the best of my knowledge, this is the first of this type of camp in the state,” said Laben Fuller, camp administrator.

High school students, ages 14 to 18, gained realistic experience mapping flight routes, building models of airports and interpreting weather conditions.?Students composed model airports using “all kinds of things,” according to Fuller, an exercise which provided them with accurate scale conceptions regarding many important landing, takeoff and tarmac activities.

“They got really creative,” Fuller said. “This might seem like just an arts and crafts thing, but it has real-life applications.”

Additionally, every student must pass the Private Pilot Written Examination by the conclusion of the course. Several pupils were selected to fly a Cessna-182, a small, single-engine aircraft, as part of the program’s “Young Eagle Flights.”

“We want to encourage students to pursue careers in aviation because there are vast opportunities,” Fuller said. “We expose them to how to file a flight plan, simulated flights, weather and airport models.”

Louisiana Tech University sophomores and juniors, majoring in aviation and enrolled in a piloting program, hosted the camp. A total of 12 young adults attended this particular session.

“We wanted to get more, but this is our first year, and the travel industry as a whole is slow right now,” Fuller said.

Special guest speakers and educators, like military aviators, commercial aviators and air traffic controllers, also made appearances at each day’s lunch hour.

“We want people to know there’s no shroud of mystery around flying, and that it’s easy to get into,” Fuller said. “It isn’t too complicated or too hard, you just have to be passionate about it.”

Currently, the ACE camp is scheduled at two other locations within the Lake Charles and Houma airports. Several forms and a registration fee of $200 are required. More information is available at LaAviator.com.

“I think we’ve sparked interest in aviation for a younger generation here in Ascension parish,” Fuller said. “We want to regenerate the aviation population.”

Students inspect a small plane within one of the hangers at the Louisiana Regional Airport in?Gonzales.