'Science Takes Flight' for Youth with S.D. Wing's Help
Lt. Col. Bruce E. Kipp
Public Affairs Officer
South Dakota Wing
The South Dakota Wing teamed up with South Dakota’s Discovery Center in Pierre for a “Science Takes Flight” summer STEM outreach program, launched to bring aviation science to elementary and middle school students in rural communities in the state’s central section.
The program enables the young participants to see an airplane, learn how it works, meet the pilots, learn what it takes to become a pilot, hear stories about Civil Air Patrol missions and ask questions.
The South Dakota Wing’s involvement began in late June, with aircrews flying CAP Cessnas to Kimball and Chamberlain. There they joined with other CAP members and local coordinators to meet groups of students, teachers and parents.
The pattern was repeated in July with flights to Oneida, Gettysburg and Kadoka.
On one typical visit on July 3, Cols. Mike Beason and David Small, South Dakota Wing commander, flew a Cessna 172 based in Rapid City to the grass airstrip at Kadoka. Upon landing they met up with Capt. Marsha Sumpter of the Pierre Composite Squadron and Kadoka coordinator Nikki Bonenberger, who had arranged for 22 youth and four teachers from the Kadoka Area School’s summer community program to be on hand.
On the ground, the CAP officers spoke with their young audience about the aerodynamic principles that keep an aircraft aloft and how a plane maneuvers through the air. The students were then given the opportunity to sit in the pilot’s seat.
Dr. Rhea Waldman, education director for the South Dakota Discovery Center as well as a captain in the Pierre Composite Squadron, provided inspiration and overall direction for the outreach program. She was assisted by the Discovery Center’s Emma McInerney.
Along with Sumpter, Lt. Cols. Myra Christensen and Nancy McKenney, Capt. Rich Helton and 1st Lt. Ruth Carley – all members of the Pierre squadron – served as ground volunteers.
In addition to Beason and Small, pilots and aircrew members were:
Lookout Mountain Composite Squadron
- Lt. Col. Russell Limke.
Rushmore Composite Squadron
- Lt. Col. Craig Goodrich
Sioux Falls Composite Squadron
- Lt. Col. Duncan Keirnes