With Aero Modelers, students' grasp of flying takes off

June 06, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

From Icarus to rockets, the Westminster Aero Modelers cover aspects of flight as they give third-grade students aviation lessons.

Throughout the year, club members dressed in flight suits with "School Flight Program" badges sewed to their sleeves carry their static and remote-control models to Carroll elementary schools and discuss the science of flight.

"We want the children to actually see what they have learned," said Raymond K. Miles Jr., leader of the model airplane club. "We try to work with what they have studied in class."

Club member C. Milton Peacock said the county "has a hands-on science program and we can help with it."

"The displays show children what the machines looked like and why they work the way they do."

Aero modelers have often become pioneers in aviation, Mr. Miles told a group of about 100 children at Eldersburg Elementary last week.

"A lot of people got started with building models," he said. "The Wright brothers were involved with models as young people, and look how that turned out."

Many children said they had seen the Wright Flyer at the Air and Space Museum in Washington.

"It all starts right here in school," Mr. Miles said. "You can go as far and as high as you want to, if you study."

For six years, club members have set up displays, demonstrated flying machines of every type and offered history lessons to students who study flight, part of the third-grade science curriculum.

"It started with a school in Hampstead and grew from there," Mr. Peacock said of the program offered free to county schools.

As the children filed into the gym, many spotted models of planes with which they had become familiar.

"There is a Bleriot!" said Marc Stader, as he glanced at the display of a dozen flying machines.

Marc knew the original Bleriot's history and could attest to the authenticity of the model.

"It was made in 1909 and it looked like this model," he said.

Lindsay Toplanchik said Louis Bleriot and his plane earned a place in aviation history for the first flight over the English Channel in 1909.

The club brought models of gliders, hot air balloons and an ornithopter -- a paper pigeon that would fly if its rubber band was wound tightly enough.

"Sometimes, it circles and comes back," Mr. Peacock said. "Sometimes, it takes a nose-dive."

Mr. Miles said he was impressed with the amount of knowledge the children had gathered on the subject. Each time he asked a question, many hands went up.

Without hesitation, Andrew Du-- named the four forces of flight: lift, drag, gravity and thrust.

"Generally, it takes four or five different people to get that answer," Mr. Miles said.

After the discussion, the children took a close-up look at the model planes.

Jennifer Weikel said the hot-air balloon would give "the coolest" ride. Lee Hufnagel thoroughly inspected the Lilienthal glider model and decided he could handle it.

"I might be able to fly a plane like this, if someone showed me how to start it," he said.

Karen Knight said the glider, with wide wings and intricate struts, looked like a butterfly. She worried about pilot safety.

"The pilot could fall off; there is no seat," she said. "He has to be strong enough to hold on."

"He has to hold his own weight up," said Everett Thrift. "It's not that scary."

Robby Craig said he had put together many model planes from kits, but he would like to emulate the aero modelers and build one that could really fly.

The Westminster Aero Modelers will make their presentation to any community organization, with a minimum of 25 in the audience. Information: Mr. Peacock, 833-3122.

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