Time is running out to be a part of a one-of-a-kind experience that will help the futures of area children to take flight.
A youth aviation camp, made possible by the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, is scheduled for July 22 and 23.
It won’t be able to get off the ground, however, unless as many as 30 kids sign up. Any less, and it’s a no-go.
Right now, its prospects are looking a little bleak. Only eight youth have signed on board so far. If the magic number isn’t met by the first of July, the camp will have to be canceled.
“From what we’re looking at, it doesn’t look like the Aviation Museum will sponsor it in Somerset,” said Roy Hinklin, a local flight enthusiast who helped bring the camp to town.
So there’s one last push on to get a full roster in time.
Applications are available at the J.T. Wilson Field on Airport Road off of Monticello Street, and the Somerset Community College technical school on the south campus, located across from the airfield.
You can also get your youngster involved by calling Hinklin at 606-678-4995.
Hinklin held a successful and very similar aviation camp here in this area for half-a-dozen years — the last in 2008 — until developing ocular cancer, rendering him unable to fly anymore.
He learned about the aviation museum’s summer camp program and got in contact about bringing it here to the Lake Cumberland area.
The camp is open to both boys and girls, ages 10-16. A total of 30 kids are needed to hold the two-day camp; each day, 15 campers — three at a time — will go up in a Cessna 172 airplane with a certified pilot instructor.
The flights would go to Monticello and land, then Russell Springs, and back to Somerset. The child in the left front seat gets to take over for a leg of the journey, once the plane is about 200 feet in the air, with each of the trio on the four-seater plane getting their chance during one of the five flights per day. It’s an hour-and-a-half round trip.
Before they go up in the air, the youth would attend a class taught by one of the museum-provided instructors, getting them ready so that they can learn the different dynamics of air travel and take the controls. Hinklin stressed that there are no safety issues and everything is carefully monitored.
Tuition is $250 per student — but it can be an investment in their future. The camp is particularly useful for kids wanting to expand their career choices. For youth that may not go to college but are mechanically inclined, Hinklin noted that the FAA-approved aviation maintenance program at the college is a great option.
“We have one of the best aviation technical schools around,” he said. “We need to promote that and let them be able to hold full sessions out there all the time.
“That’s why I’m doing it, to get these kids up,” he added. “The aviation industry is wide open. It’s a good industry to be in. All it’s going to do is expand. It’s just going to get bigger and bigger.”
Hinklin has made efforts to raise money to help pay for students to attend, and said that those efforts have been successful so far, generating about a thousand dollars. All money will be refunded if the camp is unable to be held.
An aviation camp for kids was becoming a local tradition here until Hinklin was no longer able to go up in the air himself. In order for the idea to soar once more, parents interested need to make arrangements now.
“It sure would (be a shame if the camp had to be canceled),” said Hinklin. “These young kids around here need to be able to go through this camp so they can see what’s out there.”