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Students get time in aircraft

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Cristy Kirschke of the Copper Country Composite Squadron talks with students in the Michigan Technological University Summer Youth Program course on airplanes at the Houghton County Memorial Airport Thursday. Students learned the principles of flying and tested them on flight simulators before graduating to the real thing during Thursday’s flights.

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP — Twenty-one students took to the skies at the Houghton County Memorial Airport Thursday as part of a summer program on flying.

The annual course, part of Michigan Technological University’s Summer Youth Program, is taught by volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol and the Experimental Aircraft Association.

The class has been going on for more than 10 years, though it did not take place last year because of COVID, said instructor Kevin Cadeau, public affairs officer with the Civil Air Patrol.

Before they fly, students spend time in the classroom learning about how to deal with the elements, and aeronautic principles like drag and thrust. They also learn the instruments of the aircraft by training on computer flight simulators. In the classroom earlier Thursday, they worked on navigation and how to land safely in the event of an engine malfunction.

“When they get to fly an actual plane, like they’re doing today, they’re going to know what everything does, and be able to interpret what it’s doing,” Cadeau said.

Duncan McBride of Hancock signed up for the program to get a better feel for the aviation industry and see what kind of opportunities are available. He learned about one path he might pursue as a career: airline dispatcher, who ensures the safety of the flight and helps it find the optimal route to its destination.

McBride also enjoyed his time in the air.

“He (Flight instructor Michael Roth) guided me where I needed to go, but also let me have the freedom to actually control the aircraft,” he said.

Thomas Goettel of Duluth found out about the program from his mother, a Michigan Tech grad. He’s been obsessed with aviation since he was 2. “I’ve always been fascinated that something as big as an A350, for example, can take off and fly,” he said.

The Cessna he flew Thursday was a bit more sensitive than the big commercial jets he hopes to fly someday. But while the flight was bumpy, “it was beautiful up there,” he said.

Goettel’s ultimate goal is flying a 737 MAX 9 for United Airlines.

“This is a great start,” he said. “It gives me all the information for the road ahead.”

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