Flying High at Summer Camp

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In June of 2022, 13-year-old Owen and 11-year-old Lillian participated in Alaska Aviation Museum’s  week-long aviation camp. The siblings attended the camp through Alaska Housing’s Youth Summer Camp & Activity Scholarship, available to families participating in AHFC’s Public Housing. Owen and  Lillian shared about their experience on their final day of camp. 

Throughout the week, students learned to make bottle rockets, attached motors to model airplanes and performed egg parachute drops. They also enjoyed recreational activities, playing hide-and seek in the aviation museum and watching planes land on Lake Hood. Lunch breaks were also a  crowd-pleaser: Owen and Lillian were excited to report that they ate in the flight deck, a short tower with a live radio feed from the Lake Hood tower, every day. 

Getting First-Hand Experience

The campers had the chance to experience piloting first-hand using the museum’s flight simulators.  

When asked if they ever crashed, the siblings’ eyes widened as they quickly nodded their heads  ‘yes’! While the simulators are notoriously challenging, both siblings were eager to pilot one more flight and displayed their new skills for their mother and the camera.  

A young girl participating in Alaska Housing's youth camp and activities scholarship enjoys an airplane ride as part of a flight camp.

Taking to the Skies

As a finale to the week’s events, the campers boarded a Rust’s Flying Service Beaver on floats for a 20-minute scenic tour. Owen and Lillian said that they did not feel nervous about their first flight in  a small plane and were just excited to take in the view – though Owen did double-check that Lillian  was buckled in securely. They enjoyed seeing Mt. Susitna, spotted the wreckage of an old plane and watched for moose out the windows.  

Walking back to the aviation museum after the flight, Owen turned to his mother and exclaimed,  “That was so fun, thank you mom!” 

New Career Considerations

He has decided that if his initial plan to play professional baseball doesn’t pan out, he will consider a career as a pilot. Lillian is also considering a career in aviation, alongside her passion for interior  decorating and design. 

Andrew Garner, museum development and education officer, says that the siblings’ newfound interest in aviation is the aim of the program.  

“The goal is really to inspire middle school students from around Alaska to be interested in  aviation.” He explained, “What we are trying to do is bolster the Alaskan aviation industry.” 

– Andrew Garner, Alaska Aviation Museum

Partnering to Give Kids an Opportunity

Garner spoke highly of the camp’s partnership with AHFC, which supports the museum’s goal of promoting equitable access to aviation.  

“AHFC was extremely easy to work with,”  he said.  “I 100% think that one hundred other summer camps should work with AHFC.” 

Owen and Lillian’s mother took the opportunity to express her thanks for the summer scholarship  program. 

“I am very grateful for Alaska Housing giving kids, and my kids, the opportunity to be able to find something to do in the summer – that helped a lot,” she says. “They came home every day and expressed their gratitude and told me about all the fun things they got to do.”

Learn more about the Alaska Housing Youth Summer Camp and Activity Scholarship, including eligibility and the application process.