Aviation is a privilege that few people are licensed for, and several home-schooled students were able to get an inside look at what it means to be a pilot when they were given an exclusive tour at the Newton Municipal Airport on Friday afternoon.
Giving tours is nothing new for Newton Municipal Airport co-owner and manager Ethan Nasalroad, but he said the chance to talk to children about aviation is something that he looks forward to because it allows him an opportunity to meet potential future students and fellow aviation enthusiasts.
During the tour, attendees were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at what pilots do when they come to the airport.
“When they come into a place like Newton, first thing they want to (know) is, ‘Where am I going to eat lunch?’ typically,” Nasalroad said with a smile. “And a lot of times they want to take a nap, since they’ve been up early. We have a pilot lounge for them, and we provide them a car to go into town for lunch.”
He also said the airport provides pilots with weather service by computer, which attendees were able to experience firsthand. Nasalroad asked the children for various cities to put into the computer to show them how the airport can access weather information.
During the hanger portion of the tour, Nasalroad said NASCAR race weekends tend to be pretty hectic at the airport.
“We see a lot of race teams and their crews come through,” he said. “(A lot of) sponsors come through. There is a cycle that starts about Wednesday.”
Also during the hanger tour, children were invited to climb aboard a small aircraft. Everyone was all smiles, and Nasalroad even joked about how airplane cabins seem to be so much bigger to children than adults.
Children also were able to ride in a small plane.
“This is actually, I think, my fifth time (flying), but the other times I flew in a jet,” 11-year-old Paige Robison said. “It was a little bit nerve-wracking because the plane was a little shaky, but it was really fun.”
When asked what part was the most frightening, she said lifting off was the scarcest part, and she loved landing.
Surprisingly, if there are a few bumps in the flight, most children like it, Nasalroad said.
“I think it was pretty fun,” 11-year-old Jaryn Froah said. “I’m glad I’m still alive.”
Cooperate pilot Andy Lundgren, who gave his first tour Friday, said he was impressed by the interest expressed by the children.
“It’s always good to hear the questions that they come up with,” Lundgren said. “They come up with great questions like, ‘What is this, and why do we have it?’”
Everyone who attended the event enjoyed the experience, and some of those who attended were interested in the possibility of flying their own plane someday.
“It’s just really surprising, when he told us some quotes on how much it cost (to learn how to fly),” tour attendee Jarret Horn said. When you divided it out, per person, per plane, it was pretty reasonable, especially for business people.”
Staff writer Matthew Shepard may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.