June 28, 2012

Aero Camp students have eyes on the skies, heads in the clouds

David S. Ricker
Staff Writer

A pair of brothers, who grew up as Air Force brats, received an introduction to aviation recently during Aero Camp 2012, a summer flight camp for young people at Double Eagle Aviation in Tucson.

Faced with a serious shortage of qualified pilots in America, as well as new flight requirements placed upon incoming pilots, the aviation industry is suggesting that it may be difficult for some to meet the new skill requirements necessary to become licensed and find flight employment.

“After 9/11, the aviation industry has been hurting pretty bad. There’s a huge shortage of professional pilots out there,” said Tim Amalong, president of Double Eagle Aviation.

Aero Camp is designed to provide an early opportunity for teens to enjoy and learn about the vast and exciting opportunities that await them in the aviation and aerospace industry. “What we are trying to do is encourage the younger generation to get out there and do flight training and get them around the environment and show them what it’s all about,” Amalong said.

Participating in the advance session for high school and older students was Jesse Reynolds, 21 and Trace Reynolds, 16. Their father is an Air Force veteran and works at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. “He flew for the Air Force and got his commission through ROTC,” said Jesse.

After undergoing pilot training, their father flew helicopters for 20 years before retiring. “He now works as a contractor for the same squadron, the 55th Rescue Squadron, at D-M,” Jesse explained. “I grew up watching him fly helicopters and being a part of the air force pilot community.”

Jesse and Trace wear the label “Air Force Brats” proudly. “We’ve been all over the place, but we’ve been here for about 13 years,” Jesse said.

Jesse is looking forward to graduating with a degree in political science from the University of Arizona at the conclusion of the fall semester. “I’m in Air Force ROTC and will finish up with that in December, as well, and will get my commission before I go off to pilot training in Texas in March,” he’s said.

Trace will be a junior at Desert Christian High School with the start of classes in the fall. “Flying was an interest that I wanted to explore and learn more about,” he said

Jesse said that the Aero Camp course has provided him with insight into what lies ahead when he enters military service. “My dad read about it in the Desert Lightning News and it said it was for high school students, but he called them and said if I wanted to do it as a senior in college I was more than welcome to,” he said. “Everyone here is a different age with different experiences and prior knowledge and they bring that together. I have some prior knowledge of my own, but bringing it here and having an instructor actually tell you how it works has ben good for me. The third day in, I know that it has been worth it for me.”

The situation for Jesse’s younger brother was a bit different. “I really didn’t know anything about flying before this,” Trace said. “This was an opportunity to get me closer in case this is something that I want to do.”

Trace hasn’t decided on a career path yet. “I might follow the same course because it’s just a good career,” he offered.

Jesse reported that the ROTC program at U-A is still very strong. “For the Air Force, there are over 60 students and we have all four branches there,” he said.

Trace said the biggest thing he has learned through the Aero Camp program is why something works or happens. “The science behind how they fly,” he said. “That was just pretty cool to learn about.”

“There’s still a ton I don’t know and a ton that I have to look forward to,” Jesse added. “This has definitely given me a foundation.”

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