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Venture Crew to take Farmington flight, tour
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Stevens Field Aviation Venture Crew will take to the air July 25, in a roundtrip flight to Four Corners Regional Airport in Farmington N.M. While there, the group of high school-aged students will tour the control tower and learn proper procedures for approaching and departing airfields.

Wednesday, Stevens Field airport manager Bill McKown said the venture crew currently has five active members, including president Jacob Haynes, Preston Dale, Zach Graveson, Thomas Patane and Antonio Espinosa. According to Private Pilot Ground School Instructor Anne Kautzky, just four of the five have signed up for the trip so far, while two local pilots have agreed to fly them. Kautzky has taken the lead in arranging the hop to Farmington.

As planned, Gibb Gibson and Doug Epps will pilot two aircraft from Stevens Field to Four Corners the morning of July 25. En route, the young adults will listen in on communications between the pilots and air traffic controllers, as they approach the Farmington field. After landing, they’ll tour the control tower and observe operations from a controller’s viewpoint.

Before flying back to Stevens Field, the group will have lunch, tour some hangars, inspect a few locally based aircraft and, perhaps, tour the Mesa Flight Training Facility. Of course, upon departing Four Corners, they’ll again have a chance to witness interactions between their pilots and airport controllers.

The Stevens Field Venture Crew is a “venturing” program for the purpose of teaching 14- to 20-year-olds the ways of general aviation. Annual registration is just $10, and the first 10 or 12 weeks of the yearlong program are devoted to Private Pilot Ground School. Following successful course completion, students may take a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) written exam in preparation of further flight training.

“Venturing,” as it’s referred to by the Boy Scouts of America (BSoA), is a development program for young men and women who have completed the eighth grade. Based on a unique and dynamic relationship between youth, adult leaders and select community organizations, young people are able to pursue particular special interests, while developing leadership skills and blossoming into responsible caring adults. The BSoA charters venture crews all across America.

As a Distinguished Eagle Scout and registered member of the BSoA for more than 40 years, McKown is the local charter representative.

According to Kautzky, The Stevens Field Venture Crew will discover and experience many aspects of general aviation.

“Venture Crew members may study flight training, aircraft mechanics, aviation-related weather, air traffic control, the various functions of the FAA, anything,” she said. “The pilot ground school is just part of it.”

Crewmembers meet Thursday evenings from 6 to 9 p.m., in the Technology Suites across Cornerstone Drive from the new Sears store in Pagosa Springs.

With just four crewmembers signed up for the Farmington flight so far, Kautzky said there’s room for two more. She encourages local teenagers interested in aviation to contact her or McKown and express their desire to participate. Those wishing to join the crew and share in the Farmington trip should call Anne Kautzky at (970) 422-4855, or Bill McKown at 731-3060.

chuck@pagosasun.com