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Aviation Summer Camp: Exploring New Dimensions

Project Overview:

The ASCEND summer camp is a weeklong day camp that immerses teenagers in all aspects of aviation for personal enjoyment and possible career opportunities. We have successfully inspired dozens of teens to seek further exposure/training in aviation related areas.

During the six-day camp, teens obtain "Hands-on" experiences that bring the practical aspects of flight to life. Teens are exposed to the various fields of aviation through field trips, guest speakers, tours, projects and access to a variety of aircraft and pilots.

At the end of our camp, all students are provided a right seat flight in a single engine general aviation aircraft under the EAA Young Eagles Program.


The total cost of our program requires that we seek and acquire a grant(s) in the amount of $10,000 to support our annual camps held each June. We are looking for organizations & individuals alike to join our current donors, like Taco Bell Foundation for Teens, who care about giving our teens career, community and education experiences to inspire them and their futures.


The ASCEND program is open to youth ages 13-17. They must apply, provide a short essay of why they'd like to attend, and submit a guardian signed application prior to the camp start date. We ask for a small tuition ($225) to insure genuine interest but offer to waive any fees- for need- by offering scholarships for those applicants that cannot afford the fee.


Volunteers of the EAA Chapter 1083 (Experimental Aircraft Association), based at the Rowan County Airport in Salisbury, NC provide the camp. EAA Chapter 1083 Education Coordinator Jana Brown provides leadership and curriculum. The curriculum is based on AOPA's PATH to Aviation, a handbook that highlights the connection between aviation and classroom topics (physics, aerodynamics, mathematics, mechanics, etc.)


The goal is to expose them not just to being a pilot, but also to all other elements of aviation such as maintenance, crew, air traffic control, military, medical (med-evac), hobbies, etc. We have provided our campers with backpacks, windbreakers, flight planning tools to use in classes, binders, and pens, "ASCEND" logo T-shirts in various colors for each days wear, graduation T-shirts, transportation(chartered tour bus for field trip), any and all admission fees, snacks, drinks, prepared lunches, and other miscellaneous items throughout the week. We feel that the apparel worn by our campers in non-camper environments is part of our recruitment/advertising for new students for upcoming camps and serves well to bind them as a group during their week with us. We also provide Staff shirts to camp leaders, presenters, and interns.

We use a five part interactive approach to inspire teens to all elements of aviation:

 Interactive Projects:

Projects have been designed to provide basic understanding of language of aviation, parts of the airplane, how the airplane flies, four forces of flight, weight and gravity, weather, instruments and gauges, traffic patterns, flight simulator, fabric covering, and riveting.

Access to Aircraft and Pilots
  • Med-Evac helicopter from Wake Forest University Medical Center

  • NC Hwy Patrol Helicopters

  • Several Corporate Jet Aircraft and tours by their crews

  • Aerobatic Flight demonstrations (Chapter member)

  • Personal helicopter

  • Private (Eclipse) Jet

  • Many Private Light Aircraft

  • Variety of Homebuilt Aircraft

  • Aviation Maintenance Hangar tours (Food Lion corporate hangar)

Guest Speakers and Experts from aviation:

  • Commercial pilots

  • Corporate pilots

  • Aviation Airframe & Powerplant Technicians

  • Military Pilots

  • Commercial Aviation Maintenance Personnel

  • Airport Managers

Aviation Field Trips and Tours:

  • NC Transportation Museum

  • Charlotte Aviation Museum

  • TIMCO Aircraft Maintenance Facility

  • Greensboro Technical Community College (aviation curriculum) 

Flight in a Single Engine Aircraft:


On the last day of our camp, all students are provided a right seat flight in a single engine general aviation aircraft under the EAA Young Eagles Program. This has been the highlight event for teens and allows all the week's learning and theory to come alive in actual flight. We also provide a voucher for a free discovery flight to all campers at a flight school of their choice to encourage them to pursue their interest in aviation after the camp.


Past Successes:

Of the students who have attended our camp over the past three years:

  • 18 have confirmed and are pursuing aviation in some form.

  • 1 student has graduated from Embry Riddle University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and is Employed with GE Aerospace.

  • 1 student is at NC State in the Aeronautical Engineering program

  • 2 students are at Greensboro Technical Community College pursuing careers in Aviation

  • 1 student who is a senior this year is planning to attend NC State to major in aeronautics

  • Many others are working towards becoming pilots by taking ground school or flight lessons

  • Almost half of our campers have returned the following year to work as interns to assist the next group of campers. Some have returned for 2 years.


Impact Story:

One female camper "Zahra" attended with no prior knowledge or interest in anything aviation. In her words, she was attending to get out of summer chores for a week. After the camp, she was so energized that she used her voucher for her first flight lesson. She was able to perform her first solo flight on her 16th birthday. Six months later, she passed her FAA Flight Test and became an FAA approved Private Pilot. That same year, she returned to the ASCEND program as an instructor and as a Pilot in Command, she was able to fly campers under the EAA Young Eagles Program. She has since extended her training to acquire and IFR (instrument flight rules) rating. She has flown a significant number of hours in various aircraft and is currently in her freshman year at Embry Riddle University to study Aeronautical Engineering (2013-2014). This provides one example that the ASCEND program can inspire teens to further their education and pursue a career in aviation.

 Click HERE for a short video from a previous year's camp


There are many ways your donations can help.  Email us for more information.  Thanks for your support!