TSM Space Academy Kids Take to the Skies Over L. A.

TSM Cadet, Cecilia gets chatty with the Whiteman Airport Tower while flying a private plane over Pacoima

On June 24, 2010, ten of twenty-five cadets enrolled in TSM's After School Space Academy at San Fernando High School accepted TSM's invitation for free airplane rides over Los Angeles! A nationwide organization called The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) sponsors a wonderful program called "The Young Eagles" which offers young people free airplane rides in private planes. Flight instructors belonging to local EAA Chapter 40 piloted the planes. TSM presented the free flights and lunch as graduation gifts to the cadets. The ten students were all given the opportunity to take the 'wheel' and fly the plane with guidance from the instructors and three were brave enough to try. And two of three teen pilots were female! If that weren't enough, two of the three students flyers also put on headsets and spoke on the radio to the air traffic controllers relaying identification codes and flight plans. All twenty-five cadets received prior instruction on the use of the radio and what pilots and controllers say to each other. A few weeks before the flights, an air traffic controller from Whiteman Airport named Mike Evangelista was a guest expert at the high school as a part of TSM's After School Space Academy. The cadets all felt that the classroom instruction enhanced their understanding of the process. All wished that the flying experiences were longer! (See previous article: TSM Launches ..After School Academy."

Thank you TSM Academy Flight Instructors, Ceci Stratford and Ruth Logan. Ruth (far left) waits her turn to fly cadets at Whiteman Airport in Pacoima CA.

Student pilots get a bird's-eye view of the Los Angeles Reservoir near Sylmar CA. All photos come courtesy of C. Reyes.

The pilots who flew the cadets were also their classroom instructors so the cadets were flying with friends -not strangers. This made the whole concept of a first flight very comfortable for the cadets.

Getting the cadets up in the air is a big part of the TSM teaching strategy that we call 'Learning like an Astronaut.' NASA astronauts never stop learning and they always learn from the best. To make that possible, NASA astronauts get lots of classroom instruction from experts representing various fields of study. Astronauts learn quickly by having real and simulated experiences --like flying real and simulated aircraft --with flight instructors on hand. TSM's After School Space Academy follows NASA's teaching methodology. Like NASA's astronauts, the TSM cadets were exposed to many guest experts and learned on several different realistic types of simulators. The cadets all had experiences that they will never forget! More importantly, these experiences made learning lessons after school a lot of fun!

In short, this is our idea of 'higher education!' TSM challenges anyone to identify another program that is more fun, more 'hands-on' and is free to students!

TSM Cadets, Thomas and Cecilia wait for their chance to pilot their planes.