By Maria José Subiria
Twelve children from Clayton and Henry counties gathered at the National Museum of Commercial Aviation Wednesday, to share a common interest: their love of learning about, and reading about, aviation.
The Young Aviators Book Club, a reading club for children ages 7 to 12, meets the first Wednesday of the month, from 10 a.m., to 11:30 a.m., at the National Museum of Commercial Aviation, 5442 Frontage Road, Suite 102, in Forest Park.
According to Grant Wainscott, executive director of the museum, the club has seven sessions, and appeals most strongly to home-schooled children, although any child is eligible to attend. There is no cost for parents, who are members of the museum. Non-members can register their children for $10.
Currently, there is an open seat for one more child, Wainscott said. "It is incredible," said Wainscott, amazed at the turnout. "That is why we're here, to see the excitement in their eyes [from] something fun. The parents love it, because it is educational, and the kids love it, because it is fun."
The children sat at a round table and introduced themselves to one another. "My dad has a plane, so what the heck," 9-year-old Samantha Glover, from Stockbridge, told club members about why she decided to come for a second year.
"I just like reading, and I join a lot of book clubs," said 10-year-old Travis Stowe. "I like war planes."
"I just like reading about planes, helicopters and stuff," said 10-year-old Josh Kennerly.
" ... When you get in the air, you feel like a bird doing something you thought you could never do, and it is so cool," said Samantha Glover, about her attraction to airplanes, and the reading club.
The children were provided with a book that introduced them to the main parts of an airplane, and the "four forces" of flight.
When asked to explain what thrust does to an airplane, Daniel Blake, from College Park, said, "Thrust creates speed, so it can make the airplane fly."
"What creates speed?" asked Wainscott.
"Throttle control," said 8-year-old Amelia Wainscott, daughter of Grant Wainscott.
Wainscott looked at the children, and said he was blown away by their answers.
He said the children will read a series of seven books, entitled, "A Story of Flight."
Club members will also have an opportunity to stretch their reading skills, by reading an assigned bonus book each month.
After discussing the books for the month, the children are able to explore the museum. They venture into places such as the Young Aviators' Hangar, or fly an airplane using a simulator, or even try on a pilot's, or astronaut's uniform.
On, or about, Oct. 21, Wainscott said, the museum will welcome a new addition: a Martin 4-0-4 cockpit, that is 12 feet long, 8 feet wide and 7 feet in height. The cockpit was part of an Eastern Airlines airplane, that was owned by music icon Ray Charles, according to Wainscott.
The airplane was donated to the museum, by William Bradshaw, president and founder of Prop-Liners of America, Inc. Unfortunately the airplane was corroded, Wainscott said, and the cockpit was the only part that was salvaged.
Children will be able to go inside the cockpit, during club meetings, he explained.
Wainscott said he created the program, in order to provide home-schooled students with a chance to exprience a different cultural, educational and social environment. He said the museum plans to start a new book club in the spring, to give students, who attend traditional schools, a chance to participate at a more convenient time.
In addition, the museum is hopeful that it will be able to provide a day camp, for a week, during the summer, he said. The camp will be focused on providing the children with hands-on experience in the aviation industry, by visiting places such as the Delta Air Transport Heritage Museum, Clayton County Airport-Tara Field and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"My family has been in aviation for 70 years," said Wainscott, about his strong interest in the industry. "My father was a commercial pilot, and my mother was a stewardess. I chose to be in international business, instead of aviation."
Although this is the museum's second year running the book club, children were able to experience its new, interim headquarters this week, which is approximately 6,000 square feet. In the future, Wainscott said, the museum is anticipated to be between 30,000 and 50,000 square feet. It will have a main campus, which will consist of several buildings. Currently, plans are to break ground on the new facility in 2012, he said.
"It will be a very big international draw for us [Clayton County], when the big facility is built," he added.