John Klatt was in elementary school the first time he flew in an airplane and he quickly knew that he wanted to work in aviation.
Klatt’s neighbor flew Boeing 747s for Northwest Airlines and one day he took Klatt up in a Cessna 172.
“Boy, I remember that first flight looking down at the cars and houses and how exciting it was for me to see that,” Klatt said.
Klatt was one of several presenters who visited University Avenue ACES Elementary School March 7 to talk about their interest in aviation and the science behind aircraft – whether it be the stunt planes Klatt flies or the model planes that local clubs fly.
All the kids wore Civil Air Patrol T-shirts from the Anoka County Composite Squadron. Besides helping during search and rescue operations, one of the big goals of the Civil Air Patrol is community education.
Kate Watson, a curriculum integration coordinator at University Avenue ACES (Aerospace, Children’s Engineering and Science), said the Civil Air Patrol has partnered with them ever since it became a magnet school in 2010 through the Northwest Suburban Integration School District.
“We have three all-school magnet days (each year) to celebrate what makes our school different and special and to get (students) engaged more in the lessons,” Watson said.
Klatt showed students two videos of himself at airplane stunt shows before he asked students what was the most important thing for him to be able to fly. One student guessed a motor while another guessed wings. These are important of course, but one student was able to give the correct answer, which is lift. Klatt then described how a plane flies and how he is able to perform the stunts.
Similar principals can be applied to model aircraft that students were able to see thanks to members of the Anoka County Radio Control Club and the Grassfield Radio Control Club out of Brooklyn Park.
Fifth graders Owen Donahue and Vincent Thai said they learned what a rudder does. Thai has already flown about five times including one memorable experience of seeing his house from a helicopter when he was seven years old.
“When he showed us the video of how he flew it was cool because I’ve never flown in an airplane before,” said fifth grader Dani Schoenrock.
Klatt told the students that anyone could become a pilot. Female pilots are becoming more common. One of the people he flew with when deployed to Iraq was a women.
“The sky’s the limit. It isn’t just a boys’ club any more,” he said.
Eric Hagen is at [email protected]