ONTARIO—Area youths got a close-up look at aviation, including aircraft and people who fly them, Saturday during the Aerospace Field Day at the Ontario Municipal Airport.

The event was hosted by the Malheur County 4-H Flight Team Club in cooperation with Frazier Aviation, which is the fixed base operator at the Ontario airport.

Making themselves available for the event were a pilot and mechanic, along with their helicopter. The men fly for a company that is assisting with seismic studies for oil and gas that are being conducted in Payette County. The helicopter, which pilot Andre Mueller said he tries to keep over the Payette River as much as possible for less disturbance, is being used to move equipment for the ground crews conducting the studies.

Their company, Trans Aero Inc., is based in Loveland, Colo., but, Mueller, who is originally from Switzerland, said he has flown all over western Europe and in more than 40 U.S. states, including Alaska.

Mueller and mechanic Randy Brown talked to the youths and their parents about what they do and about helicopters in general. Mueller told the group there are many uses for helicopters, including weather and news reporting, firefighting, touring and as air taxis, as well as for mineral exploration.

“There are endless possibilities,” said Mueller, who has been flying since 2006.

The demand for helicopter crews is such that Brown, a mechanic with 43 years of experience, offered this piece of advice: “Just keep your bags packed.”

Tommy Frazier of Frazier Aviation talked about the importance of the airport to the economy of the local community. Other activities during the morning’s field trip included touring the airport facility and the LifeFlight base.

Major companies such as Seneca Foods, Heinz, ConAgra Foods and SSI, plus several local companies, all utilize the airport, Frazier said. So do such agencies as the Bureau of Land Management, which uses the airport as a base for air tanker operations during the firefighting season. Other agencies include Oregon State Police and a company that flies for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

There are a number of private planes housed at the airport as well. Enterprise Rent-A-Car also has an office there to serve people who need ground transportation.

The 4-H Flight Team offers an opportunity for youths to get up close to aviation, have some hands-on experience and learn about what is available for careers in the aerospace field, said Barbara Brody, Oregon State University extension agent and club leader. For more information, call (541) 450-4075.

Larry Meyer is a news reporter at The Argus Observer. He can be reached at (541) 823-4813 or by emailing larrym@argusobserver.com. To comment on this story, go to www.argusobserver.com.

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