Navy LT Julie Reichel
Patrol Squadron FOUR
The purpose of this year’s “Discover Your Future in Aviation” was to expose young people to the thrills and joys of a career in aviation. For many people, the highlights of the event were the guest speakers, including Jessica Cox, the first licensed armless pilot; Rob Kelso, a former NASA flight director; and Lt. Col. Karen Fuller Brannen, the first female Marine F-18 pilot. In addition to the guest speakers the event also showcased a handful of both active and retired aircraft accompanied by their respective pilots and volunteers.
To help play their part in exposing young people to aviation, the pilots of VP-4 spent the afternoon in front of a bright yellow RC-3 “Seabee,” a post-World War II amphibious aircraft, and helped children climb in and out of the cockpit. Additionally, the pilots also took the time to pin “wings of gold” on the children’s chests. Noting how knowledgeable some of the children were, many of the VP-4 pilots realized that this wasn’t their first exposure to aviation or aircraft.
Corbin Lewis, 11, knew enough about planes to finish one of the pilot’s sentences. When his mother, Nola, was asked where his fascination comes from, she replied “His whole life is flying. We take him to every air show we can find, we come to the museum a lot, and he even walks around the house in a flight suit.” Corbin Lewis is also the youngest person to ever request to volunteer at the Pacific Aviation Museum and dreams of one day becoming a military pilot.
Another visitor, 3-year-old Henry, hardly spoke a word that was not related to his toy planes or his pilot uncle. Looking at the yellow amphibious plane, he became so excited that he, uncharacteristically, was hardly able to speak. Watching Henry, as well as many other children, climb into the plane was like watching a person’s first taste of chocolate. The smile that transformed their faces and the excitement that shown from their eyes conveyed the beginning spark of passion that has captured aviators for more than 100 years.
The VP-4 pilots said they truly enjoyed their time at the “Discover Your Future in Aviation” event and they felt fortunate to play a part in exposing the thrills of aviation to so many young people.
“I really enjoyed introducing children to aviation,” said LTJG Branden Roy, a VP-4 pilot. “It was great to see how enthusiastic the kids felt about learning to fly and becoming pilots someday.”
LTJG Katie Medford-Davis agreed. “It was great to represent VP-4 (in) the community and to see how many kids are excited about aviation today,” she said.