Greater Latrobe kindergarteners learn about aviation, first responders during field trip
Whether it was climbing through the cockpit of vintage 1942 Stinson Reliant airplane, watching demonstrations by Latrobe Police Officer Robert Derk and K9 Zeus or getting faux medical treatment from staffers of Excela Health and Mutual Aid Ambulance, kindergartners in Greater Latrobe School District got an up close look at the airport and first responders Friday.
It was the second annual community exploration outreach field trip at the KLBE Air Museum at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport in Unity and, judging from the comments from some students from Baggaley, Latrobe and Mt. View Elementary schools, it was a huge hit.
“It’s awesome. Look, fire comes out of those engines,” said Anna Trickett, 5, as she stood on the tarmac outside the museum pointing at a Rockwell Jet Commander corporate jet that is part of the museum’s collection.
“Our goal is to educate students in hopes of alleviating fear, while triggering an interest in aviation, community service fields, and to build positive relationships with first responders,” said field trip organizer Marian Ferlin, a Latrobe kindergarten teacher.
The event featured a flight simulator, aircraft demonstrations, a film about the Blue Angels and sessions with police, fire and EMS officials. A state police helicopter and the airport’s fire truck were also on site.
“Many of our students here today will never have an opportunity to ride in an airplane, but will fly today in the museum’s airplane simulator over their own home town, plus ask questions and talk with the first responders who work in their community,” Ferlin said.
Last year, Ferlin said the school district did a test run “with a few classes” and it was a big success, so this year it was expanded to all district kindergartners.
“I can tell you that the students who participated last year talked about it the entire school year. Many were building airplane models, paper airplanes and talking about aircraft they saw all year long,” she said.
Students also watched a program in the museum’s theater featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Ferlin pointed out that the seats of the theater are actually seats taken out of airplanes, courtesy of airport authority chairman Donald Rossi.
“You’d be surprised, but just sitting in those actual airplane seats watching a movie may help alleviate a child’s fear of flying,” Ferlin said.
In addition to the various first responder and aviation stations, students were also treated to airplane cookie treats, coloring books and paper airplane kits donated by the organizers.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, [email protected] or via Twitter .