Boy Scouts, troop leaders and pilots were keeping their eyes to the sky Friday night to see if a blast of wintry weather would ground their plans to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Carlisle area.
Mike Marra of the Keystone Flight Club said this is the fifth year the group has hosted Boy Scouts for a weekend to allow scouts to complete activities to earn their aviation merit badges.
This year, the club hosted Troop 173 from the Carlisle Barracks, under the leadership of their Scoutmaster Greg Cantwell, and a troop from the Harrisburg area for a total of about 60 boys.
Marra said the boys would have the opportunity to talk to a Life Lion crew about careers in aviation and how air assets can save lives. Pilots and ground crew personnel were also on hand to tell the boys how airplanes work by showing them the engine and all the components of the aircraft. The final part of the Boy Scout “ground school” discussed radios and charts.
And then, weather permitting, it would be time to fly.
“Most of the boys have flown things on flight simulators, but when you’re actually doing it and doing it in three dimensions ... it’s exhilarating,” Marra said.
Assistant scout leader Mark Haseman said the boys in his troop have been excited about the chance to earn the badge. “Most of the time, you don’t actually get to fly,” Haseman said. “This is a unique opportunity where pilots are volunteering their time and resources to get the boys up in air.”
Many of them have flown commercially, but the experience in a single engine propeller would be quite different for them, Haseman said.
Though the weather played a role in their flight planning, the boys were prepared — as scouts are — to stay all weekend at the Carilsle airport. Haseman said part of the focus for the weekend was to give the boys the space and time they needed to complete tasks to advance their ranks.
Haseman said Marra and the club deserved a lot of credit for providing the boys with the opportunity. Marra, in turn, thanked the 13 pilots and various ground crew members who volunteered their time for the event.
He also thanked the owner of the airport for allowing the club and the scouts to use the facility. “A lot of airports shy away from this kind of thing because of liability,” he said.