After our normal starting the day routine we convinced master barber Stacey to give the male portion of the crew their monthly haircuts. I think we could have built a small animal out of the hair that came off our four heads. Sad part was Stacey took her shower before the haircuts - she was extra insulated from this cold arctic Florida weather by the time she got done. The four recipients of the cuts were very appreciative as she is getting pretty good and it sure helps conserve our monthly budget dollars for more exciting things.
We decided to stay at Lazydays RV park one more day as we wanted to go see the Sun and Fun Air Museum a few miles up the road. We took a mid-day break from school and work and hit the road arriving at the museum around 2PM.
We took a wrong turn into a parking lot that ended up being for an Aerospace academy high school program that gives specialty training to high school students on areas related to aerospace and aviation.
We went to the front counter to check in and mentioned our ASTC program that gives at least most of us free admission. The lady at the front desk was great, got us in for no charge and even called over to their education center to let them know we were a homeschooling family to see if they could fire up some flight simulators they had.
|Spencer showing Skylar how a rocket engine works.|
|This beautiful aircraft was piloted by a cute little bear. ;o)|
We explored the museum which has some great exhibits on aviation specifically in Florida and a variety of homebuilt planes. About two thirds of the way through the exhibits the front desk lady said they had arranged for all the kids to try the flight simulator. We were escorted by a young man that was a freshman at the aerospace high school. He was in full uniform as he was also part of the ROTC program they have there.
At the education center we were introduced to Laurie the director of the museum and John who it turns out is the educational director. It was obvious they both loved their jobs there and John got the kids situated on laptops running Microsoft flight simulators with joysticks to make it easier to fly without remembering the correct keys. He did a great job walking the kids through the basics of flight without them getting bored. The kids did great on the test flights although I am pretty sure I would not fly with Spencer as he seemed to like flying through buildings and trees.
After the simulation John took the kids to sit in a real two seat old time airplane and discuss in real life the things they learned a bit about in the simulation. He was even able to convey to the kids the concept of the lift of an airplane being mostly from the top of the wings and not the bottom. They also got to sit in a real helicopter and pretend to fly it while he discussed how it was different but that the concepts were the same as an airplane.
After this lesson he took us in a golf cart out to the airport part of the campus where they actually have an airshow in April. There we got to see the hangars they have. A really cool part of the high school program is that 3/4 of the fees for getting a pilots license are covered by the school so a $7500 private pilot license training with airtime ends up costing less than $2000 for a student. We got to see the trainer planes they use and they looked much nicer than the Cessnas I was used to.
John then took us to an old DC3 they had on the grounds. If you are an Indiana Jones fan this is the plane he usually flies in across the ocean. It apparently had been damaged during a tornado they had at an airshow and has remained there since. He unlocked it for us and let the kids crawl up into the cockpit. He explained the controls and how they were just like the ones in the smaller plane the kids had sat in but with more options and more engines. It was awesome to get to see a legendary plane like a DC3 that close and sit in the cockpit and play with controls (OK, I am kind of a nerd about aircraft).
|Watching for the ailerons' movement|
|Sky checking out the cargo area of the DC3|
|Prototype plane that never really worked.|
|Smallest "twin engine" that can carry a person.|
|John impressed in our brains that the airplane flies because it pushes|
air down. This is a beautiful demonstration.
It was a great museum and education center and we left there really having had a good time and learned a lot.