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JCHS students shadow aviators for day

By SPC Stephen Baack | 1st Infantry Division | May 04, 2007

Eight Junction City High School students visited the 1st Infantry Divisions Combat Aviation Brigade Feb. 8 to see Black Hawk helicopters up close and learn about the day-to-day lives of aviation Soldiers.

The students shadowed mechanics of the brigades Company D, 3rd Battalion, 1st Aviation Regiment as the Soldiers performed routine inspections and light maintenance on the helicopters inside the battalions hangar.

"Its interesting to see people who have absolutely no idea what the military is come here and find out what it really is and to see something they wouldnt have a chance normally to see," said Sgt. Justin Cummings, avionics mechanic with Co. D, 3rd Bn., 1st Avn. Regt. "Look how excited he is compared to how excited I am. This is just another day at workits a playground for him."

Though the JCHS senior Cummings referred to, Andrew Van Cleave, is enrolled in his schools Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program and his father is in the Army, he said he had been anxiously awaiting a chance to sit in the pilots seat the whole day and was excited to see the helicopters internal parts.

Van Cleave said though seeing the engine and learning about the helicopters hydraulic system were highlights of the job shadow, his goal is to go up in a helicopter and one day pilot a Black Hawk.

"I plan to work on (Black Hawks) first and then eventually become a pilot so, learn it before I fly it," Van Cleave said.

Van Cleave wasnt alone in his desire to someday take flight. Like his fellow students who participated in the job shadow, many are resolute in their goals of flying military aircraft.

"The reason I came out here is Im aspiring to be a pilot," said Lawrence Moss, sophomore and JROTC cadet at JCHS. "I havent had any experience, like hands on, in becoming a pilot or going into aviation, and this job shadow I heard about would tell me if this was a good experience or a bad experience if it was something I would want to be instead of going to college and not knowing what I wanted to do."

Moss said he wants to go into the Air Force, or at least one of the military branches to either become a pilot or enter the medical field.

"I had a plan to go straight into the Air Force to become a fighter pilot, but I have to have more options," Moss added.

"Me personally, I want to go into the Air Force, but if I dont make it into the Air Force, then I am going into the Army, and I am going to become a pilot," said Ernest Thompson, sophomore and JROTC cadet at JCHS. "As long as Im flying, Im happy."

Moss and Van Cleave saw the engine up close as Spc. Joshua Callahan, Black Hawk mechanic, Co. D, 3rd Bn., 1st Avn. Regt., led them through inspections and maintenance.

"It went great," Moss said of the job shadow day. "The Soldiers taught us about the aircraft really wellI learned some things I never knew about, like the technology they use in the helmets with the Apaches."

"I think it went well," said Pvt. Kevin Myren, Black Hawk mechanic with Co. D, 3rd Bn., 1st Avn. Regt. "I wish we would have had a little more maintenance for the students to actually see. The inspections were something they could see, but its hard to really show them exactly what we do every day.

"It was neat to show them a little bit about the birds," Myren added. "We let them sit in there, and I think they liked being able to climb around on it too a little bit. I always feel good about helping out somebody whos possibly going to be in the Army later on too."

Soldiers also supervised the students as each one sat in the pilots seats to learn about the Black Hawk control panel and communications system.

"Im going to be in my sleep every night now playing with the control panel," Nicholas Corey, sophomore at JCHS, said after almost an hour behind the controls inside one of the Black Hawks with Cummings.

Cummings spent hours teaching the students about the avionics equipment inside, and beneath the skin of the helicopter. Though students spent nearly the whole day inside the hangar, a few of the students braved the cold to watch a Black Hawk take off from a safe proximity as they sat inside an adjacent helicopter with a Soldier.

"I think it was easy to interact with them," Myren said. "They seemed like a really good group of kids. They were smart. It wasnt like we were trying to babysit them or anything. They were here to follow us around see whats going on. They had some good questions to ask too."

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