Giving back to the community was put into action this past Saturday when pilots from Colleton’s Lowcountry Regional Airport gave plane rides to local boy scout troops.
Approximately 30 scouts and four pilots prepared to fly around Walterboro for a few hours Saturday morning, giving a rare opportunity for kids to see the town from the air.
The idea originated with scout leader Richard White.
White achieved Eagle Scout rank before eventually becoming a scout leader himself. His love of scouting, radio-controlled airplanes and robotics led to him contacting the airport officials and asking if pilots would be willing to fly scouts around.
That request was turned over to Doug St. Pierre, pilot’s association president. According to St. Pierre, all pilots have to log and fly a certain number of hours each month to keep their licenses. So when this idea was presented to him by White, St. Pierre was intrigued.
Not only could the pilots log in much-needed fly time, but they could give back to the community by donating their time and fuel, teaching kids about flying and giving them an enjoyable day. It was a win-win for everyone.
February 8 was set as Fly Day, and though it began with temperatures in the 30s, that did not detract from the excitement in the scouts.
First, they gathered in a hangar for the Pledge of Allegiance and flight instructions.
Next, pilots took groups to their planes and taught scouts how to construct a preflight safety check. After that, they were buckled in and the planes took off.
Scout Sam Rampey was thrilled with the opportunity to fly. “This is great!” said Rampey. “I was so ready for this.”
St. Pierre was impressed with the scouts. “They are great kids, and it is wonderful that we can do this for them. We get to log in flight time, teach the kids about plane safety and operations and give them a great experience,” he said.
White was also grateful that the pilots provided these trips. “I couldn’t do much without the assistance of volunteers who help the scouts. It has taken us 3-4 months to work out the details, but it has been worth it,” said White.
Besides providing a learning opportunity through flying, White’s plans also include teaching kids about robotics.
“With Micah Hudson and Captain Robert Brooks, we are starting a robotics competition for the council which will serve about 7,000 kids, and we will also have a Lego League competition. We want to teach them about STEM careers and give them a future,” said White.
“I was an Eagle Scout, too,” said Brooks, a merit badge counselor. “I enjoy radio-controlled model planes and robotics, and now I have my own plane. We want to teach the kids about all of this and get them away from video games,” he said.
White agreed with Brooks. “If one kid decides to become a pilot, or if one kids gets a job in a robotics field, we have done our job,” White said.