Local ACE Students Visit Maxwell AFB for Aerospace Day
About 200 local fourth- and fifth-graders visited Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, home of Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters, for Aerospace Day on May 13 – the first outing since the COVID-19 pandemic blocked such trips in 2020 and 2021.
The CAP and Montgomery Chapter 102 Air and Space Forces Association aerospace education teams resumed their partnership with Montgomery Public School’s Bear Exploration Center to support the school’s aerospace and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).
Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Maher, Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development commander, greeted the students in front of the Wright Flyer in Historic Air Park. A special presentation by Orville and Wilbur Wright impersonators provided a historic background of the Wright brothers’ 1910 flight school at the Maxwell site.
Maher shared that as a young girl in South Dakota, she didn’t know the world of aviation was a career option. She realized the opportunity after becoming an aircraft maintainer and receiving advice from a local recruiter, she said.
Knowing about CAP and touring Maxwell gives them at an advantage, Maher told the students.
“You will find that most careers or passions you can have, there are links to math, science, and even aviation,” Maher said. “It can seem hard or unattainable, but do not be scared of the hard.
“Go after it; the hard is what propels you.”
After the welcome ceremony, the students toured Maxwell to learn about the base’s history and its current and future missions. They explored the airplanes at Historic Air Park and then traveled to tour the Air Traffic Control Tower and Simulations Room, the Maxwell Aviation Fire Station, and the Civil Air Patrol hangar, where STEM activities were available and a CAP plane was on display. A CAP cadet was on hand to introduce the CAP cadet program to the students.
“Students have been involved in a lot of virtual learning and have had to keep a safe distance from others, which has reduced the opportunities to engage with those outside their safety net of school,” said Susan Mallett, CAP’s aerospace/STEM education outreach coordinator.
“Resuming this event allowed our aerospace education teams and Maxwell AFB volunteers to demonstrate how much we care about the students and their education,” Mallett said.
“It also enables the students to experience opportunities to excite them about possible career opportunities they can explore after visiting the various base locations and listening to those who spoke to them about their careers,” she said.
The students participated in STEM activities that complemented their involvement in CAP’s Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) program, which Bear has been participating in since 2007. The students wore purple ACE program shirts donated by the Montgomery AFA chapter to commemorate the Month of the Military Child and took home gift bags donated by Air University and Civil Air Patrol.