Students get hands-on aviation experience at Tinker

  • Published
  • By Maj. Jon Quinlan
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Twenty-six students from all corners of Oklahoma visited various units here June 5, 2019, to learn more about future careers in aviation.  

The Aviation Career Education Program, commonly known as ACE, hosts weeklong summer camps with assistance from the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, Federal Aviation Administration, and Metro-Tech Aviation Careers Campus. Each year, participants visit the base to learn about military aviation.  

“The goal is to give them exposure and an opportunity to see different aspects of aviation,” said Lt. Col. Cory Glenn, 465th Air Refueling Squadron pilot and ACE Academy coordinator. “We want these kids to find something they would like to do for their career and maybe pick a career track in aviation.” 

Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, plays a critical role in developing future aviators, according to FAA officials who helped put the program together.

“We are really fortunate to have people that want to move STEM forward in Oklahoma,” said Laura Shepherd-Madsen, ACE Academy coordinator from the FAA. “Aviation is the second largest industry in our state, and it’s up to us to be ambassadors to help our children go in that direction.”

The ACE academy visit gave students hands-on activities such as touring the the KC-135R Stratotanker, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the T-6 Texan II aircraft. They spoke with instructor pilots and learned about the Air Force Reserve mission from aircrew who recently returned from deployments.

The students also participated in activities throughout the week to include building rockets, learning about air traffic control and viewed up-close how aircraft engines operate.

According to Glenn, ACE camps are a great opportunity for kids to get involved in aviation, which is one of the reasons he chooses to volunteer every year. 

“I’m passionate about it and it’s important at their age,” Glenn said. “Seventh and eighth grade is really when students need to start thinking about what they want to do later in life. They don’t have to decide now, but they need to start taking classes and making the right decisions to allow them to be eligible for jobs in aviation, should they decide to go down this path later in life.”