July 30, 2013
You could feel the excitement in the air as thousands of people anxiously awaited the first official day of AirVenture 2013. Five of these eager attendees traveled from Frankfort, Kentucky, particularly excited about the many opportunities that would be presented for networking and talking to people about The Institute for Aerospace Education. AirVenture is known as the world’s greatest aviation celebration, making it the perfect place for sharing inspiring milestones and triumphs the Institute has seen. As the main gates opened, the group also saw many gates of opportunity open.
I am Tori Williams, a current student of the Institute. As I enter my senior year, I celebrate a recent solo and successful 80 NM cross country flight. A decision was made this year to only allow adults and seniors acting as staff to attend. I was given the chance of a lifetime to work closely in promoting the institute, while simultaneously experiencing my first year of AirVenture.
For those readers who do not know about the Institute of Aerospace Education, we are a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing aerospace education for high school students. Our mission is to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning through the context of aerospace. Students become thoroughly prepared for the career path they choose such as… flight/aeronautics, space systems, engineering, aircraft maintenance, aeronautical engineering, aviation management and operations, and Air Traffic Control.
Having this initiative, it is essential to network with other schools, pilots, aviation communities and businesses. AirVenture is notoriously the largest meeting of aviation enthusiasts in the world, a heaven of helpful and passionate people. The five of us attending this year were up and prepared to promote the Institute as early as 2 hours before opening time. I am not a morning person, but the distant hum of thousands of aircraft gave me an awakening adrenaline rush.
Because this is my first AirVenture, I was not quite sure what to expect. Many people had given me a rough idea, describing it with such words as massive, unforgettable, amazing, and overwhelming. I must say I found all of these to be great descriptors. The airport is so large, it appears to go on forever. Rows and rows of unique and beautiful aircraft can be seen from almost any spot. People from all walks of life gather to share stores and admire the pure wonder that is at the heart of aviation. I spent every moment in awe, constantly finding new and fascinating places and things to take in.
Despite it being just the first day, I have already explored the 4 massive exhibit hangars. I had the opportunity to speak with the president of the Ninety-Nines, meet the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, buy some unique and beautiful airplane jewelry, and watch an amazing airshow. If the great events of the day were indicators of how the rest of this week will be, I know this will become one of the best weeks of my life. AirVenture is more than I ever imagined it would be, and I cannot wait for some more exploration tomorrow.