Flying gliders is all about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and members of the Sugarbush Soaring Club want to entice young people into STEM by offering a free day of learning and flying at the Warren-Sugarbush Airport next month.
“There’s a huge problem getting enough kids into STEM studies. We’re looking to light that fire, or where that fire is flickering, pour some lighter fluid on it,” said Tom Anderson, director of operations (as well as an instructor and tow pilot) at Sugarbush Soaring.
“Soaring is really applied science, technology, engineering and math,” he said, noting that the soaring club’s Flight Experience for Youth (FEFY) program has an educational mandate.
The June 3 event is open to 20 students ages 10 to 18 years old. This is the second year the club has sponsored this event.
“What’s cool about this is that it’s not a free glider ride. It’s instruction in the glider. Every kid gets a temporary log book and goes up with an FAA-certified flight instructor and gets a chance to actually fly the glider for a good portion of the flight. They get to log that time and it counts for the required time if they want to fly,” Anderson explained.
Participants will spend time doing ground school instruction and in static observation of a glider that they will watch being taken apart and put into a trailer. In addition to their 20-minute lesson in a glider, they will be able to tour several other planes and gliders and enjoy a tour of the airport and a free lunch.
The event, which takes place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will be staffed by four Sugarbush Soaring Club instructors, with two tow pilots and planes and a number of volunteers and board members.
“One great thing about this is that we ask kids to write a little something in an application to participate in the program, explaining why they are interested. That requires some level of maturity and engagement,” Anderson said.
“It’s really cool to read what the kids write and get a sense of kids who are passionate and invested in the idea,” he said.
This event is funded by charitable contributions to FEFY, a 501(c)(3) in partnership with Sugarbush Soaring Association.