This week at KidVenture, a group of aspiring aviators and their adult mentors traveled more than 1,000 miles to Oshkosh to show off the replica of a B-25J Mitchell bomber cockpit they built.
What started as a shell of a treehouse is now a model with realistic controls, sounds and electronics, all installed by the Young Aviators.
At KidVenture, there’s an interactive mission for kids to complete in the cockpit, guided by the Young Aviators who built the plane.
Scott Serani traveled with the Young Aviators from Broomfield, Colo. He’s in charge of throttle and flight control and exterior sheet metal for club projects.
“What started out as a shell turned into this. It just kept growing. The kids wanted to do more: the electronics, and the sounds and the realism … And then the parents got involved and developed a mission. So everything you see today is about 18 months of these kids and the mentors working collectively with Oshkosh as their goal,” says Serani.
The Young Aviators are based in Erie, Colo. They’re a part of the Mile High EAA Chapter 43, a nonprofit organization.
Serani said the group started because they were inspired by the Young Eagles program at AirVenture. Young Eagles gives kids the chance to fly at AirVenture.
“We noticed that we had kids that had that spark and we decided they needed a venue where they could explore aviation, so we started as a little club to explore aviation topics and doing hands-on projects.”
Pat Miller is the events coordinator for the Young Aviators.
“It’s amazing what they (the Young Aviators) do. They are so engaged with their learning. They pay attention,” said Miller.
She wrote down some of the comments she heard from the kids going through the B-25J experience. Kids from places such as Texas, Ottowa and Alabama offered their praise for the Young Aviators’ work.
Young Aviators has about 15 members ages 8-18 and their adult mentors.
John Kellogg, 14 years old from Erie, Colo., was one of the group members who helped build the B-25J bomber.
“We tried to find as many real B-25 parts as we could and all the ones we couldn’t find, we used 3-D printing to make the model, to make it as similar as possible,” says Kellogg.
Kellogg has been a member of the Young Aviators since he was 8 years old.
Eighteen months ago, Jeff Skiles, a co-chairman of the Young Eagles club, called Young Avaitors and asked them if they wanted to take their project to KidVenutre. Skiles is also known as the co-pilot of the plane that landed on the Hudson River in 2013, so this was exciting for them.
“It’s been fun here. I’m proud of it. Now that we’re here, it’s like, ‘we came a long way,’” says Kellogg.
To see the bomber and experience the interactive mission, visit KidVenture at AirVenure Oshkosh.