I recently had the pleasure of participating in a celebration of aviation at the Taking Flight at EVIT event in Phoenix, AZ. This AMA sanctioned is born from the efforts and involvement of Paul Kaup, the CEO and founder of STEM+C.
The event utilized local and national resources to ensure its success. Paul and his team worked for months to secure the funding, location, volunteers, equipment, and expertise to provide the community with solid pathways into aviation. This family friendly event is held on a bi-annual schedule. This consistency is a key ingredient as attendees look forward to future events, and Paul has done a great job of adding additional resources that provide exciting experiences.
This Fall, many exhibitors came to be a part of the celebration. These included the Phoenix FAA Terminal Radar Approach Control Facilities (TRACON), the City of Phoenix Aviation Department, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), Honeywell, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Boeing, the Vertical Flight Society, Aviation Explorers from ASU, Red Rock Flight school, the National Association of Rocketry (NAR), Fly Time Aviation, the Preflight Aviation Camp, a first robotics challenge arena, the Arizona Air National Guard, the University of North Dakota, the Civil Air Patrol, and of course the Academy of Model Aeronautics and AMA District 10 Vice President Greg Stone.
The event also hosted Skydio flight demonstrations, a buddy-box fixed wing flight line that leaned heavily on the new Benett V2 airframes, an FPV multirotor buddy box area, indoor FPV with tiny-whoops, and a wonderful new Glider Challenge for local middle and high school students that saw 40 student teams registered.
The glider challenge was a great way for students to put their theories to the test as they hand-launched foam board airframes from the top deck of EVIT’s parking garage. Students competed for several awards that included the judge’s choice, longest distance traveled, and longest duration. It was a pleasure to converse with each team prior to the launch. This was also a great opportunity to gauge both the presentation skills, and the aeronautical theories that each team had factored into the gliders they had produced, which certainly factored into the judge’s choice award.
This event has built upon a solid foundation of previous aviation events that Paul has organized, and it’s an event we’ve consistently seen great things from. Lessons learned are plentiful and I will share some of them in the hopes of assisting others as they coordinate similar experiences around the nation.
To start with, if you are considering hosting an event, we have resources that will help with your planning. Watch the webinar, read the documentation, and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Next, hosting this kind of event needs to be done as a collaborative effort to ensure success. No single individual can develop these kinds of experiences in a vacuum in a sustained way. To attempt this is to learn the meaning of burnout. Find opportunities to collaborate with professionals, amateurs, and volunteers who have a passion for sharing aviation, and you’ll be well on your way to a successful event. Paul uses his relationships with aviation professionals to help ensure the public has a great experience.
Don’t be afraid to share the vision, then share the tasks with specific individuals that have a track record of results. These people should understand the vision, the specific aspect you are asking them to manage, and any parameters you need them to be aware of. Communicate clearly and equip them to find their own success! Having quality leaders will enable you to have periodic check-ins without drowning in the details.
Think of being a good host. Leaning on EVIT as the core of the event ensured space for both indoor and outdoor aviation experiences, while also ensuring access to lavatories, air-conditioning, and nearby parking. The staff and students of EVIT were a big part of the success of the event and their efforts were immensely helpful
Using these tips, along with the resources outlined in some of the links, will help you to build a great community event experience. As always, reach out to the AMA Education team for more information.
See you at the flying field!