READY TO FLY: Campers at the Pikeville-Pike County Aviation Camp prepare to take to the skies over Pike County earlier this week. Thirty students took part in the 12th annual event.
Medical Leader | Photos by ABIGAIL GIBSON

Campers take skills to the friendly skies

PIKEVILLE — Thirty students participated in the 12th annual Pikeville-Pike County Aviation Camp on July 11-12.


The camp, conducted by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, was hosted by the Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport. Students learned about aeronautics, flight simulator use, navigation and how to take off, fly and land a real airplane.


“This is my second time attending this camp, I really enjoy flying the plane,” Camper Piper Adams said.


Instructors taught the students how an airplane’s wings provide lift and how its control surfaces enable it to defy gravity. They also learned how to read and understand aviation charts and cockpit instruments.


Students used virtual flight simulators provided by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky to show realistic views of specific airports, runways and the surrounding countryside, including buildings and trees.


Like a real airplane, as they begin their takeoff, the instruments constantly update and the view changes, showing the students’ progress down the runway and into the sky.


“The purpose of the camp is to let the kids experience aviation, aeronautics, fly an airplane and see what it feels like to be in the sky,” FAA Certified Flight Instructor Rod Smith said.


Smith said students were under the steady hands of experienced pilots during flight. They participated in planning and conducting the flight.


Students flew to Big Sandy Regional Airport in Martin County or Mingo County Airport outside Williamson, W.Va., where they landed and traded seats with another student who would then fly back to Pikeville-Pike County Regional Airport.


The camp attracted several students who participated last year as well as a number of first-time campers.


For many, it was their first time in the front seat of an airplane.


“I have always wanted to try flying. It interests me how airplanes work. This is my first time flying a plane and I’m super excited,” Camper Haley Little said.


There was plenty of food and fun to accompany the classroom learning. Each day, the airport provided hamburgers, hotdogs, chips, beverages and much more to those in attendance. For most, the real treat was the flying lesson.


Aviation Museum of Kentucky can be contacted at