NEW WINDSOR – On July 15 through 19, the Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris Chapter of the national organization Tuskegee Airmen Inc. inaugurated what is sure to become an annual event: a week-long aviation day camp for air-minded young people between the ages of nine and 17, held at New York Stewart International Airport.
Twenty-four boys and girls participated enthusiastically in an intensive round of events and exercises focusing on STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and aviation careers.
Classroom instruction and talks by a variety of local aviation professionals covered such subjects as aviation history, aerodynamics, the future of electric flight, aircraft engines, and vintage-airplane restoration. Field trips to the American Express corporate flight department, Atlantic Aviation’s operation, the 105th Airlift Wing New York Air National Guard base and other facilities kept the kids busy, as did light-aircraft and helicopter rides with some basic flight instruction as a bonus.
A wide variety of airport operations also opened their doors to the campers, including Independent Helicopters, Polaris Aviation, JetBlue Airways, the Army’s 2nd Aviation Detachment, the New York State Police, and the Port Authority.
Local private-aircraft owners volunteered their time and airplanes to provide rides, and the campers logged many hours on the Trowell-Harris Chapter’s sophisticated desktop flight simulators, including a full virtual reality rig. The vivid simulators are used as an important part of the Chapter’s Lt. Lee A. Archer Jr. Red Tail Youth Flying Program, which takes place during the school year.
With the camp’s theme “Living the Legacy,” the campers got an introduction to the World War II epic of the Tuskegee Airmen-black fighter pilots in the air and Civil Rights pioneers on the ground. Theirs is the legacy that the Trowell-Harris Chapter is devoted to preserving, particularly by passing it on to young people.