Sooner Flight Academy Partners with AOPA at Aviation Festival


Eli Isenberg

On Saturday, the Sooner Flight Academy partnered with the AOPA 2017 Norman Fly-In and turned a hangar at Westheimer Airport into a kid-friendly learning center during the 11th Annual Aviation Festival.

While jets and biplanes took off, thousands of people scattered about like ants, looking at the newest – and oldest – in flight technology.

As these ants frantically darted around, young grasshoppers were learning about the wonder of flight through creative, hands-on and, above all else, fun activities. It was like a jungle within a jungle.

And the jungle was so dense with fun activities that the kids did not realize their parents had tricked them into attending a well disguised classroom. Every activity incorporated some kind of aviation concept.

Kids assembled model airplanes, learning how different parts fit together and interact. They threw paper airplanes at targets like an archery competition. Sometimes, the plane would pull off a spectacular triple-loop before landing two feet in front of the thrower.

One room doubled as a green-screen photo-booth, which teleported kids to the moon, and a miniature movie theatre, which ran a gimmicky instructional video describing concepts like drag and air resistance.

Activities like these transform what could be mundane learning experiences into lifelong memories. As Dawn Machalinski, Sooner Flight Academy program assistant, pointed out, “The kids don’t always notice the education part; they notice the fun.”

When asked how he likes the Sooner Flight Academy, Xavier Weigel, 7, replied, “Good… because I learn so much about airplanes.” After being asked the same question about “normal school” he replied, “Normal school? I don’t like it.”