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Airmen help youth learn aviation at conference

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- Airmen gather with members of the Federal Aviation Administration during the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Service members and DoD employees from the National Capital Region volunteered chaperones for more than 1,000 students from 19 area schools. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

Airmen gather with members of the Federal Aviation Administration during the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Service members and DoD employees from the National Capital Region volunteered as chaperones for more than 1,000 students from 19 area schools. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- Maj. Jon-Michael, 99th Airlift Squadron pilot, Joint Base Andrews, mentors middle school students from Baltimore Rising Stars Academy during the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Calhoun stressed the importance of math and science in is career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- Maj. Jon-Michael, 99th Airlift Squadron pilot, Joint Base Andrews, mentors middle school students from Baltimore Rising Stars Academy during the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Calhoun stressed the importance of math and science in is career field. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Grant, 779th Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace and operational physiology journeyman, and Daniel Steele, North Point High School student, explore remote technology at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Many exhibits demonstrated surveillance and information technology used in the aviation industry. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Grant, 779th Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace and operational physiology journeyman, and Daniel Steele, North Point High School student, explore remote technology at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. Many exhibits demonstrated surveillance and information technology used in the aviation industry. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- The Oxon Hill High School Reserve Officer Training Corps drill team won the high school drill competition at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. The students won an opportunity to partake in mission simulations at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- The Oxon Hill High School Reserve Officer Training Corps drill team won the high school drill competition at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. The students won an opportunity to partake in mission simulations at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria, Va. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- The U.S. Naval Ceremonial Honor Guard perfoms drill before an audience of more than 1,000 youths from 19 area schools at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md.- The U.S. Naval Ceremonial Honor Guard perfoms drill before an audience of more than 1,000 youths from 19 area schools at the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition at the Gaylord Convention center, National Harbor, Md., Oct. 3, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Amber Russell)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. --
More than 80 volunteers from Joint Base Andrews, Md., Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C., and the Pentagon helped children from 19 area schools glimpse the dynamic world of aviation during the Air Traffic Control Association's 57th Annual Conference Exposition here Oct. 3.

This year's conference focused on the future of air traffic control, and the exhibit hall offered the students more than 100 exhibits from aviation-related companies and organizations and the opportunity to speak to military and civilian experts from many aspects of aviation.

One such expert was Maj. Jon-Michael Calhoun, a pilot with the 99th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, Md.

"If becoming a pilot is something you really want to do, you have to face and overcome any fears," said Calhoun. "When it comes to flying, you have to gauge your in-flight experiences to see if you can tolerate the effect flying has on you. More importantly, facing fears in math and science is a must."

After touring the exhibits, the students observed a high-school ceremonial drill competition, with opening ceremonies provided by the Naval Ceremonial Honor Guard.

The Oxon Hill High School Reserve Officer Training Corps drill team triumphed, and the team members won an opportunity to become astronauts and engineers at the Challenger Center for Space Science Education in Alexandria, Va., where they will partake in mission simulations, which are learning environments based on the practices NASA uses to prepare astronauts.

During lunch, aviation industry leaders gave interactive briefings. Bufkin Fairchild, FAA aviation safety inspector, discussed Isaac Newton's three laws of motion with the crowd of young adults. He invited participants to the stage to read slides, answered questions and demonstrated the effects of force and gravity.

As the day ended, many teachers said their students' futures in aviation were just beginning.

"Today my students had the chance to see practical applications for all the technology they've grown up with," said Janet Bondelid, North Point High School electronics teacher. "The exposure they get now will open the door to future possibilities and make them better informed to make solid decisions in college and their careers."

Federal Aviation Association officials hope to attract the best and brightest to lead the future of aviation, said Dr. Belinda Bender FAA program manager.

"This is why the Department of Transportation Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Program continues to educate young minds in science, technology, engineering and math studies," Bender said. "We could not host this event without the organizational skills and physical support from our local airmen and government employees.

"These willing warriors and military patriots make this event happen flawlessly. They set the standard and walk the talk," Bender said. "Their mental equanimity coupled with their freshness of approach to our next generation goes unmatched."

Staff Sgt. Laurina Sousa, a 99th Airlift Squadron special air mission flight attendant from Andrews, organized the military chaperones who guided and inspired the students throughout event.

"I'm glad we could help youths learn about all the aspects of the aviation world and make them aware of all the opportunities out there," said Sousa.