Parks College Hosts Youth Gateway to Aviation

April 9, 2013
Aviation Science, Parks College News

parks-college-takeoffMore than 110 kids between the ages of 13 and 20 learned about careers in aviation through hands-on presentations and discovery flights.

In today’s tech-savvy world, we all know that getting the attention of teenagers is no easy feat. However, last Saturday Saint Louis University’s Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology, together with its many partners, did just that.

SLU’s Parks College teamed up with The Boeing Company and the St. Louis Downtown Airport Saturday, April 6 to host the Youth Gateway to Aviation event. The event took place at the St. Louis Downtown Airport and attracted over 200 people. The event was designed to foster youth aviation education through hands-on experiences. More than 110 kids ages 13 to 20 took discovery flights from our SLU certified flight instructors and the EAA Young Eagles.

youth-gateway-to-aviationA Parks College flight instructor prepares for takeoff.

In addition to taking discovery flights, there were many other activities for attendees.  The Boeing Company provided their F-18 simulator so kids (and adults) could try their hand at flying and landing a fighter jet. They also offered presentations on the four forces of flight, to educate attendees about what it takes to make an airplane fly. Garmin International allowed participants to interact with their touchscreen panel-mounted avionics, next generation audio panels and touchscreen portable navigators.  Other highlights included presentations by the St. Louis Downtown Airport Air Traffic Control Crew, water cannon demos with the airport fire truck, aviation activities at the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum and a cockpit tour led by Air Associates in a high-tech aircraft.

During lunch, Radio Disney brought their travel crew and entertained folks while also hosting a hula-hoop contest and other activities. Wicks Aircraft was on hand to help kids build balsa wood and rubber band airplanes and educate kids about aircraft maintenance. Those interested in pursuing higher education in aviation were able to chat with the ROTC, Parks College and Southwestern Illinois College (SWIC), as they showcased many of their projects and discussed opportunities for advanced degrees.

“We are thrilled that we were able to introduce kids to aviation in such a hands-on and interactive way,” said Stephen Belt, Ph.D. Chair of the Aviation Science Department at Parks College. “It was a great way for the aviation industry to come together and show kids about the many different facets of aviation.” The event attracted many groups of kids including boy scouts, girl scouts, mentoring groups as well as individuals attending with their families.  All agreed that Youth Gateway to Aviation was a fun and educational way to spend a Saturday. In fact, some of the participants even said that after their discovery flight, they were now considering a career in aviation, something they had never considered before.

SLU and SWIC students and staff volunteered their time to help the day run without a hitch. Many SLU clubs hosted activities to help kids get involved with innovation, build rockets and learn about the many aspects of aviation. The event would not have worked without the help of our many partners.

 For a full listing of our sponsors, exhibitors and activities, please visit the Youth Gateway to Aviation website at

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