Friday, July 22, 2022

Teachers Air Camp: Day 4 (Summer 2022)



Day 4 - Thursday, July 21, 2022

Our 7:15AM departure time this morning came waaaay too early. Somehow I managed to get ready, go down to breakfast, and get my car packed up by 7 however. I will be happy to gain an hour back today and get some real sleep tonight!!

We spent the day at Dayton International Airport participating in four different stations. 

My group (Bravo) headed out to the runway first. On the way out there, we stopped at a random FedEx 727 plane that was parked on the concrete. The story is that a decade or so ago, FedEx decided they weren't going to use the 727 planes anymore, so they reached out to whoever and said they could have them for schools or classes or whatever. Well, a school in the area thought it would be really cool to use it as a science classroom, so they requested to have one sent to Dayton. Once they realized how much work it was going to be to transport the plane from the airport to the school and THEN turn it into a classroom, they changed their minds. Its been at the airport ever since. Our guide said that he keeps having to move it, because when he puts it somewhere, they end up wanting to build something in that place. 



There weren't any planes due at the runway right away, so we got to go out on it! Of course we took some pictures, because when else will we get to stand on the runway?! #RunwayModels
It was SOOO wide (which obviously I knew it would be, it just really hits you when you actually stand on it). We got to watch two planes comes in after that - it was neat to be that close up!



The next stop was a behind the scenes TSA tour. We couldn't take any pictures in this part, which was too bad because it was really awesome to see! There is a mile of belt that checked baggage travels. We got to see the screen that bags show up on if something in them sets off the alarm. While we were there, it happened! You could see red, green, and blue coloring - the red is the color of the item that sets off the alarm. The guy manning the computer had 41 seconds to determine if the object is actually a threat or if its okay. If it is okay, he cancels the alarm and sends it along. If its not, he sends it to the back to get checked. If he can't make the conclusion in 41 seconds, it times out and gets sent to the back anyway.

In the back, they get the same image on the screen that the guy in the first room did. This is where they open up the bags to check them. First they put on gloves, then they open the bag and find what set it off. We got to see the guy inspect a bag as well. What had set the alarm of what just a bunch of papers/books. The reason alarms get set off is because of the density of objects having the same density of explosives. They only screen for explosives, but if they find something that isn't suppose to be transported via public airlines (drugs, hazardous materials, etc), they have to call police, security, etc.

There was also this suction type thing that came from the ceiling and helps them lift the suitcases when needed. It can suction up to 120 pounds. The walls around the baggage checking were very thick to help keep people outside the room safe just incase there were an explosive that went off in that room.

Our third station was plane mechanics which was very interesting. We learned a lot about how different parts of  the airplane work. This specific area had American Eagle planes.




A fun fact that the mechanic shared with us is that planes get struck by lightning quite often. They have little black thingies hanging off them to help get rid of the static from the lightning.


If the power goes out, there is a little generator that pops out of the plane and generates enough power to power two of the displays in the cockpit.

We saw an engine casing open with the engine removed. Apparently it is only held on to the plane by four bolts!! This fact made us all freeze for a moment. When mounting the engine, three people watch the person mounting it to make sure it is done correctly. The mechanic told us anytime they fix something they MUST have a manual out and open.



The blades on the engine were way smaller than I thought they would be, but they cost $17,000 EACH! And you have to buy them in pairs. Each engine has 28 blades.


Another fun fact is that the leading edges on the plane are NOT painted because they have anti-ice built into them to keep the ice from building up.

Our last station was the Airport Rescue Fire Fighting Station. The trucks are GREEN and kind of look like tanks! I believe he said that there are 12 people employed there over three shifts, and they have to have at least two there at a time. If there are only two, then they only respond to aircraft emergencies.  If there are more than two then they can help with medical issues at the actual airport.




The trucks spray three different things depending on the fire. Water, foam, and dry chemical. For example, they can't spray water on an engine on fire because that could cause the engine to blow up, so they use a chemical that puts out the fire but doesn't leave residue. 

There are three different alert types that they respond to. An ALERT 1 means that an aircraft may be coming in with a problem. ALERT 2 means that and aircraft does have a problem, which could be anything. ALERT 3 means that there is a specific point at the airport with a problem - this could be a fire or just an airplane that has gone off the runway and needs help getting back on track.

He said that other than general maintenance and whatnot, they're most used during airshows. We got to take a ride in the truck and shoot water out of the hose! We went into the fire house and relaxed in their recliners too....we were EXHAUSTED.


From there, we went back to the main building of the airport for lunch from McAllister's Deli - a sandwich, pickle, chips, and a cookie. While eating lunch, two workers from Best Friends Pet Assisted Therapy presented two of their therapy dogs that they bring to the airport. It all started when a woman whose husband was military had asked at the airport if she could bring her therapy dog to the airport to help people. When they moved, the airport reached out to Best Friends and asked if they would be interested in taking over. They said that they just wander the airport and let people spend time with the dogs! One story was that a girl was VERY nervous to fly, but after she spent time with one of the dogs she was able to get on the plane.


We also had some police dogs visit and show us how they sniff out chemicals. They're trained on 16 different chemicals and typically work until they are 8-11 years old. The reason they have to retire them is because their senses change when they hit that age range.


Our final activity of the day was graduation. We were presented with a pin, a patch for our flight suits, and an envelope with our graduation certificate, a wings patch, and Air Camp magnet. The tradition of the coin in aviation dates way, way back when pilots would wear them around their neck in case they were shot down/injured/hurt, they could be identified. It evolved over time in the military and became a brotherhood. Pilots would carry their coin wherever they went. If another pilot asked if you had your coin and you didn't, you had to buy him a drink. If you drop your coin, you have to buy the whole room a drink! Also, when you're given the coin, you're given it in a handshake, so you really have to be careful not to drop it!


We were really lucky to have a great group of counselors (who are also teachers!) this week. The worst parts of PD are when the people leading it don't have classroom experience (or their experience was so long ago they're clueless to what its actually like these days). 

After graduation I took the bus back to the hotel where I had left my car and began the 5+ hour drive home.

I called my dad on the way home and he asked me which I liked better, Space Camp or Air Camp, and I didn't have an answer. Space and astronautics are where my passion really lies, BUT Air Camp gave me some really great experiences and I learned A LOT. When it comes down to it, I just really like to learn about anything, so whatever can give me those experiences is a win in my book!

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