Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Tue May 19 2015

FAA Workers Get Kids Involved In Aviation

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | May 19, 2015

FAA Workers Get Kids Involved In Aviation

Image courtesy of Thinkstock

The Federal Aviation Administration is helping build the workforce of tomorrow by getting kids interested in aviation today.

The government agency just posted this on its website today and it’s pretty darn cool.

“Tony N., the air traffic manager of Great Falls tower, collaborated with local FAA technicians and controllers, along with local businesses, to develop a kid-sized control tower and airplane exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Montana.

“It was a full community effort,” said Tony, who looked at other miniature towers, including the one in Oshkosh, Wis., to conceptualize the project. “We wanted something for the kids that allows them to have fun and will spark their interest in aviation.”

Dave S., a Great Falls technician, installed and wired real ATC equipment in the tower to show children what it’s like to be a controller; another FAA tech, Mike R., out of Juneau, Alaska, engineered and built the tower, which he made to resemble an old U.S. Air Force tower — with orange-and-white checkered paint and angled windows. The airplane is constructed from the front fuselage of a regional jet donated by Avmax Aviation Services at the Great Falls International Airport. The cockpit is dressed to be realistic and features old vacuum cleaners, hidden and operable with the push of a button, to simulate the sound of jet engines.

“We wanted to give them some bells and whistles so they can touch buttons and things would light up,” Ross said. “They love it; they have a learning component while they’re playing.”

Labels next to each feature in the tower and plane teach children how they are used in real operations. And there’s more to come… “The big thing is we’ll continue to enhance it,” Tony said. “We've talked about doing quarterly upgrades, so the kids might see something new next time they visit.”

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