WINTERSVILLE - Pier Aviation and local aviatrix Natalie Campana are teaming up to get young people interested in flying with a special "Women of Aviation" program from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Jefferson County Airpark.
The free program includes a mini flight school, aviation speaker and a range of age-appropriate activities for younger kids, that includes a tour of a plane and hangar, building an airport from chalk, airplane photographs, a glider contest and coloring a banner. Middle school and high school-aged attendees can take part in a mini-flight school with Pier Aviation's Phil Bender. They'll also tour the plane and hangar, take photographs, learn about navigation, charts and aerodynamics as well as pilot lingo and determining if the weather is safe to fly.
To increase awareness among both sexes, after the program Pier Aviation will offer airplane rides, weather permitting, for $30 per person.
"We're hoping for 10-20 to fly for the first time on Saturday," Campana said. "The international goal is to get as many future Lady Aviators in the sky; however, I never exclude the boys. Recently, I took my friend's daughter flying, she could not believe how the Ohio geography was so different (compared to) being on the ground. Now, she hopes to earn her wings one day."
Airport Authority members credit Campana with pulling out all the stops to boost awareness of flying.
"It's an amazing opportunity for kids," she said. "Women of Aviation is an annual event, a national event, and this week we're trying to see how many young students we can get up in airplanes."
Campana, a pilot herself, said she's been interested in aviation since she was 3.
"My aunt took me to the airport, Jefferson County airport, and I saw an airplane fly over my head and that was it," she said. "I was hooked. I tried many times to take flight lessons, but my parents told me to wait until I got out of school."
She's been flying, off and on, for 11 years, but had to cut back when the economy nosedived a few years back. It wasn't until last year that she was able to get back to flying.
Saturday's events, she said, are all about "sharing the passion."
"It's all about sharing the awesome opportunities we have, and aviation is one of them," said Campana, now a multimedia instructor at Jefferson County Joint Vocational School. She said she tries to incorporate her love of flying into classroom activities.
"We do photography, videos ... we do a lot of things with it," she said. "We made a video for Women of Aviation, aerial videos and documentaries. My students have done documentaries on Amelia Earhart, the Wright Brothers, John Glenn, Neil Armstrong ... it's what we do to integrate aviation into the classroom."
She said some of her students experienced flying for the first time thanks to her class. "We're just trying to show them that academics cross over into everything, including my fields - multi-media and aviation," she said. "It's a win-win, it gives kids another thing to do in Jefferson County."