This week, we had the chance to go on a field trip with our local Homeschool Network (HSN) to the Joplin Regional Airport.
Let me just start by saying, it was the best field trip we’ve ever taken.
There were several volunteers, set up in “stations,” who were full of information for us.
They were all very patient and answered all of our questions. They put a LOT of work into our trip and it was something we will never forget.
I signed up for the event on Facebook and it had a very brief description, that said we would experience the terminal, TSA Screenings, medical helicopter, air control tower, Freedom of Flight museum and the Civil Air Patrol Technology Center.
But, wow! It was so much more.
We started the day at Joplin Regional Airport’s new facility.
Inside, we got to check out the baggage area, we visited the terminal and we walked through the TSA’s metal detector.
Each child also got a “Boarding Pass” to keep track of all of the fun.
The new facility was gorgeous. Natali enjoyed snapping a few pictures of the old photos, hanging in the lobby.
Our next stop was to the airfield and museum.
There were nearly 50 kids on this trip, so we broke up into smaller groups. We were lucky to have one of the smallest groups. Of course, we learn so much more when we are in small groups. We are also so much more willing to ask questions when there are fewer people.
Our first station was the private airplane. The girls got to climb inside and play with the controls.
Next up was the a replica fighter plane.
The volunteers from the Freedom of Flight Museum had made this replica showing the inside and outside of the plane. The kids loved seeing where the bombs were kept.
I was blown away to learn that war planes used to be made using mostly only fabric and wood.
Our next station focused on Newton’s 3rd of action and reaction.
The kids made a balloon airplane, using straws and paper wings.
Next, we got to check out a medical helicopter.
We learned so much from these guys.
I never would have guessed that the patient rode right next to the pilot.
These guys were super fun and didn’t mind answering even the silliest question.
This holds the helicopter’s engine. Can you believe the engine is only the size of a basketball?
The staff works 24 hour shifts but only works about 8 days per month. While on duty, they stay in a mobile home set up like a home. They eat, rest and even sleep here, much like firemen.
Once they get an emergency call, they are into their jumpsuits and off the ground in about 9 minutes!
The helicopter stays outside unless there is really nasty weather, so it is always ready to go.
Each flight has a pilot, paramedic and nurse.
They each have their own tasks and they work together as a team to get to the patient in the safest and fastest way possible.
And they may or may not get to watch fireworks on the 4th of July in the air, from the helicopter.
Our next station was the Civil Air Patrol Technology Center.
This was in the basement and if I had a million dollars to give away,
it would go towards getting a proper place for them to display their bukus of information.
From the time we stepped foot in the basement, the walls were covered, from floor to ceiling, with poster boards of detailed drawings of every kind of airplane that you can imagine.
Can you even imagine how many hours were spent creating these drawings?
I honestly could’ve spent hours in this section of the field trip and I still wouldn’t have been able to absorb all the information presented.
The first room we visited was full of missiles, bombs and other information about military planes. Once again, the walls were covered in tons of information.
The next room led to more hands on learning. The girls got to sit in ejection seats, try on jumpsuits and play with a flight simulator.
After information overload , we trooped back upstairs to check out the airport’s fire truck.
Since it was so cold and it was misting outside, we stayed indoors to try on the fireman suit and to ask any questions the kids had. The fireman was a great sport about all of the questions, and taught us a lot about how emergencies at the airport are handled. Though he had never actually fought an airplane fire at this airport, he had really become a great lawn mower. 🙂
The airport fire truck is yellowish green so that the firefighters can easily see which truck belongs to the airport. This is important because it is equipped with different tools than a regular fire truck.
Notice how there are no hoses or ladders?
The fire truck shoots foam from the truck because a plane fire would be too hot, even for hoses.
The truck is designed to drive up close to the fire, instead of pulling hoses close. Once the fire is out, the fireman would then proceed to cut all of the passenger’s seat belts.
There was also a helicopter here but we didn’t get to climb inside of this one.
The fireman, fully suited up, looks a little silly.
Our final stop was the Air Traffic Control Tower.
We climbed over 50 stairs to get to the top.
Once there, we got a lesson in directions, compasses and some map maker’s tools.
We learned the different reasons you would use one of the 6 runways the airport offers.
Our volunteer explained to the kids why planes want to take off and land going into the wind.
He showed us how we can use landmarks to determine our visibility.
Once we had finished rotating through all the stations, we came back to the lobby area. The volunteers had made goody bags for all the kids and they each got their own “wings” and a pilot license.
I can’t say enough good things about this field trip. We learned so much in just the few hours were there. The best news is that the museums are open to the public or you can arrange a time to go visit them. Our family will definitely be going back!