Ontario — With only three meetings held so far, the newly formed 4-H Aerospace Club is still very much in its infancy and has a lot to offer area youths of nearly all ages who are interested in aviation.

This new club is provided through an Oregon State University program, and it is the only 4-H Aerospace club in the state.

The Ontario Municipal Airport serves as the meeting place every other Saturday and currently there are two instructors who teach the children, ages 5 through 17. Amanda Vansickle, who is an airport employee, private pilot and is currently working to become an FAA ground instructor, is one of the aerospace instructors and believes this program is long past-due.

“My goal here is to spark kids’ interest in aviation and make pilots,” Vansickle said. “There is a shortage of pilots.”

This was the same sentiment expressed by Tommy Frazier, the owner of Frazier Aviation, the company that owns the fixed base of operations building at the airport.

Aviation is a field that’s not discussed about too often as a career possibility and he sees this as a growing problem that will affect everyone more than they realize, he said.

“A lot of pilots are getting ready to retire and there’s not enough people in training to replace them all,” Frazier said. “Our goal is to work with as many kids as we can and hope to encourage them to be more involved with aviation.”

Frazier also said that it’s not just about how to fly a plane either. There’s technical and engineering areas that many don’t realize are an integral part of aviation.

Barbara Brody, an OSU extension agent associated with Malheur County who handles non-traditional 4-H and family community health program areas, said that the idea behind this program, and 4-H in general, is to expose children to every opportunity there is and help them make better decisions in life.

The concept behind the club is to create a cooperative learning program that teaches leadership skills in an aviation setting, Brody said. The curriculum used is based on national research, is highly informative and hands on.

Several pilots themselves who fly through the area stop in on the class to teach the children about their particular area of expertise, Brody said.

“Pilots come in at random and teach their knowledge,” Brody said. “When you start to think about it, there’s all different kinds of pilots that come through here.”

Braden Tschida, a 7-year-old 4-H Cloverbud, said that he enjoys his time with the aeronautical club and the different things that they learn.

“Today we learned about different parts that planes need to fly,” Tschida said.

Tschida’s enjoyment of the program seems to be the same across the board for all the children in attendance and Brody said that this program is a pretty amazing thing to have in the community.

Classes are held every other Saturday at the Ontario Municipal Airport with the next class being this Saturday. There are no fees to join the 4-H Aeronautical Club, but there are nominal fees associated with being a member of 4-H. However, Vansickle said that if your child is interested, to come to the class anytime and see what it’s about.

To learn more

For more information, contact Vansickle at (541) 889-9197 or at (541) 450-4075 in the mornings and evenings.

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