The Youth Aviation Adventure Program (YAA) was founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1997 by Dan Kiser and Steve Wathen. Dan and Steve, both pilots, offered to help Steve's son and some friends earn their Boy Scout Aviation Merit Badges. The two men enjoyed sharing their love of aviation with the boys so much; they began recruiting scouts from other nearby troops and offering their Aviation Merit Badge program twice a year. As the program became more popular, Dan and Steve enlisted other pilots and aviation enthusiasts as volunteers to expand and upgrade the content of the program. Girl Scouts and youth from other organizations in their community were invited.
Currently, YAA has a pool of over three hundred pilot and other adult volunteers that offer their expertise as discussion leaders. Several pilots provide their own aircraft as teaching aids. The Ohio State University Airport provides hangar, classroom and ramp space. The Columbus Fire Department provides firefighters and an airport crash truck as one of the teaching stations. Channel 10 provides a helicopter and pilot as one of the teaching stations. The Columbus State Community College provides a cut-away jet engine for use in the power plant station.
The YAA program is currently offered twice a year at the OSU Airport, once in the spring and once in the fall. The program typically attracts 150-200 participants, however, due to our stepped up marketing effort, one spring session drew over 480 participants. Although participants do not have to be members of any formal organization, most who attend are either Boy or Girl Scouts.
The YAA program is geared to boys and girls who are between the ages of 12 and 18. The curriculum is based on the STEM requirements and helps the Boy Scouts earn their Aviation Merit Badge. The kids (and some interested adults) spend about twenty minutes at each of the ten stations where they participate in discussions about: In-The-Know aviation quiz game, airplane preflight checks, airport surface operations, airport firefighting operations, use of helicopters, aerodynamics, the life of a professional pilot (careers), aircraft engines, and instrument procedures, FPG-9 glider. Most stations are run by two pilots/discussion leaders.
Our Vision For The Future
YAA has been intentional in the recent past in developing our program as a modular, inexpensive, repeatable system that can be transplanted and duplicated anywhere. In each major community in America, the platform exists for our program to be implemented with almost instant success; an EAA chapter populated with volunteer minded, passionate aviators, thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, as well as many other young people who are interested in the exciting world of aviation.