Homeschoolers take a trip to the airport

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Children attending home schools who are members of the Pearl River County Christian Home Education Association were in for a special treat Monday morning.

They arrived at the Picayune Municipal Airport to find a number of interesting things that would fill their morning.

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Kelli Garcia, a member of PRCCHEA, said that field trips and events such as the one they participated in on Monday are ways for the parents who home school their children to engage in field trips and other social activities, such as Christmas parties, and a Valentine’s Day party.

During Monday’s trip to the local airport, the children heard about aviation and how planes work from Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Officer for the Diamondhead Squadron Ed Gough. He also brought a simulator so the children and adults could get an idea of the complexities involved in operating an aircraft. Gough’s goal was to entice the children to consider a career as a pilot, or within the realm of science, technology, engineering and math.

In addition to providing education opportunities to the community, members of the Civil Air Patrol also assist with emergency services when needed, such as search and rescue operations, Gough said.

The children also got a chance to see a helicopter that has been fitted with an apparatus to trim the sides of trees near power lines.

The Hughes/MD 500 was at the airport for some maintenance before heading out to a job. Randy Jernigan, a pilot who works for a company based out of Taladega, Alabama, said he has been trimming trees in the area for the past three months.

He does that by flying over the tree and using a 900 pound apparatus attached to the underside of his helicopter. Attached to that device are 10 large blades spinning at about 4,000 revolutions pre minute that are able to cut four to eight miles of tree line per day to clear space from power lines.

Even though it’s attached by a series of up to four long metal poles, the engine that drives the blades is controlled remotely from the helicopter cockpit.

Jernigan also gave the children some insight into how a helicopter flies, the engine that powers the craft and training needed to become a pilot.

The children also got a short tour of Phillips Aviation, a fixed based operator at the Picayune Municipal Airport who provides maintenance services for airplanes.