Over the past fourteen years the Greenwood Military Aviation Museum (GMAM) has been coordinating a highly successful Flight Education (Flt Ed) Program, specifically for Grade 6 students, in cooperation with the classroom teachers and escorts from some 14 Annapolis Valley and other schools.
Planning for this program started in 2002 and evolved out of the interest and initiative of a few teachers at the Pine Ridge Middle School (PRMS), mainly Mrs. Connie Weinberg. She accepted an offer by the Museum Visit Coordinator, Major (Retired) Lloyd Graham, to get her students up close and personal with aviation technology, and the resident equipment, artefacts, and history associated with the Base. Connie’s students were the first to attend and she was instrumental in helping critique the initial program with her students in January 2003. Her positive response and interest and the enthusiastic support of the museum volunteer instructors provided the momentum to continue with the program and expand the scope to include other schools and the spectrum of technological information available in the museum.
The Flt Ed program is structured to complement the school “Flight” unit set out by the Nova Scotia Department of Education for the grade 6 syllabus. FltEd school visits are generally run once per week, on a Wednesday, from about 0930 until noon during the period mid-January to mid-April and can accommodate about nine schools. Weather days are incorporated for some flexibility in scheduling. Fifty to sixty students and escorts per visit are ideal. They arrive by bus at mid-morning, are divided into six groups and rotate through six main areas of the Museum at twenty-minute intervals until noon. There is a 15-min snack/bathroom break mid-schedule. If required, the facilities at the VPI Centre are available on request to accommodate the students with their noon lunch before returning home.
The various areas of the museum include:
Area 1 - Computer Flight Simulation is a power point/movie presentation encompassing various aspects of aircraft design and instrumentation, with a simulated local flight to show the features of a military Tutor aircraft.
Area 2 – The 74 Year History of CFB Greenwood is explained, encompassing World War II, the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan (BCATP), current flying squadrons and some personal stories of Air Force heroes.
Area 3 - Helicopters, Parachutes and Search and Rescue are featured, with the basics of how a helicopter flies and how a parachute works. Various aircraft, aspects of squadron, crew and Search and Rescue Technicians’ responsibilities, and actual rescues are discussed.
Area 4 - Engines/Propellers/Jets are discussed and instructors demonstrate how radial and in-line piston aircraft engines and propellers function. They also compare the operation of jet and turbine engines.
Area 5 - Argus Aircraft Tactical Crew Procedures Trainer (TCPT) introduces the Cold War, Anti-Submarine (ASW) and Surveillance era, including the potential threat, the role the Argus aircraft played, how this crew simulator worked, underwater acoustics and the various tactical duties of the large Argus crew.
Area 6 – Spitfire, T-33 Ejection Seat, and Torpedo provides a demonstration of aircraft flight controls and various aircraft equipment, how an ejection seat permits a pilot to safely leave a crippled jet aircraft in flight, and how an air launched torpedo works.
Generally, two volunteer instructors are responsible for each area. Most volunteers are experienced military aircrew, either retired or currently serving members of the Base with a few trained civilian volunteers. This mix covers a broad spectrum of expertise that not only benefits the students but also has a positive effect on the team concept of instruction.
Since 2006, the Museum Flt Ed Program expanded its scope to accommodate requests from several elementary schools. This now regularly includes students and staff from Kingston Pine Ridge Middle School; Greenwood École Rose-des-Vents; Middleton High School; Berwick & District School; New Minas Evangeline East Middle School; Kentville Kings County Academy; Bridgetown Regional High School; Annapolis West Education Centre, Cambridge Central Kings Regional High School; and New Germany Elementary School. Two schools with a single Grade 6 class can be successfully combined on one visit. Although exposed to a wide variety of technological and historical aspects in a very short period of time, the students seem genuinely eager to participate. Feedback from the teachers and students has been very positive.
The key to this program is having over 20 plus experienced motivated, committed volunteer instructors available to work with the students. In the past fourteen years over 6500 students/teachers/escorts have participated in the Museum’s Flt Ed Program. The 2016 Program will run weekly on Wednesdays from 13 January to 20 April. This program has truly become a community team activity that would not be possible without the cooperation and interest of the school staff, parents and the enthusiastic support of our many museum volunteers. Hopefully, the program will continue indefinitely.
Connie Weinberg retired from teaching in 2012 and is now a volunteer with the museum. She gets the final word: “We have a wonderful resource in this area in the Museum and the volunteers. Nothing teaches like experience. The expertise and experience shared by the volunteers involved with the Flt Ed program is second to none. Grade 6 students and staff of Pine Ridge Middle School would like to thank this great team of volunteers and the Museum staff for allowing us to be a part of this program and for the tremendous amount of expertise and energy you bring to the Flt Ed Program”.
Lloyd E. Graham,
GMAMS Director/FltEd Coordinator
FLIGHT EDUCATION PROGRAM
2016 flight education team members from left are: Back: Eric Wood, Allan Baillie, Pat Nixon, Bob Fetes, Sean MacEachern, Al Daigle and Andre Elieff. Centre: Walt Crocker, Murray Decker, Jack Britney, Ted Taylor, Bob McElman and Michael Heimdallison. Front: Ernie Supple, Lloyd Graham, Keith Mitchell, Peter Miller and Bill Fraser. Missing: Ernie Godon, David Chevalier, Gerald Keil, Peter Sayers and Bruno Losier.
(Malcom Uhlman photos)