HAYDEN — Latitude Aviation owners Jeff and Anny Fouche brought science, fun, and flight together Monday by hosting 120 of their daughter Kyndall’s closest friends for a field trip. The Ramsey Magnet School of Science first-graders had been studying weather and air, said teacher Kathy Jones. As part of their unit, the Ramsey students had done Google expeditions aboard aircraft carriers and flight lines using virtual reality goggles, said teacher Clarissa Jackson. However, as teacher Sumer Comfort said, the field trip to see and feel real airplanes added something to the curriculum that the magnet school couldn’t offer on its own. “We offer them hands-on in the classroom, but this makes it real to them,” she said.
Students rotated between stations on different types of weather, paper airplanes, bubbles and wind chimes, careers in aviation, air pressure, and static display aircraft. At each station, kids got to use their hands to stay active and engaged. Latitude Aviation’s Cessna 175, Cessna 172, and Aeronca Champ were on hand as well as aircraft from other local pilots, said staff mechanic Joel Price.
Veteran private pilot Frank O’Connell lauded the Fouches for exposing kids to aviation. The field trip was “a good way to get kids out here and see something most kids don’t.” O’Connell also said getting young people interested in aviation is one way to solve the nation’s pilot shortage. However, piloting won’t make you rich and the costs of training can be daunting, he said. “This is something you have to have a passion for,” said O’Connell, who has flown for 30 years for the love of the skies.
Fouche epitomized the importance of exposure to flight as a youngster, and the role of passion in the field. He said that as a young boy he was the kid that got thick books on airplanes as his prized possessions. Though he became a mechanical engineer as an adult, his love for flight never went away. He began flying in 2003 and found that he also loved teaching others how to fly. Along with his staff at Latitude Aviation, Fouche has offered flight instruction locally since 2014. Because of its mountainous terrain, Idaho is a great place for people to learn to fly, he said. “It’s like Alaska without the bugs.” The company is the only school in Idaho to get the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s recognition for flight training excellence two years in a row, he said.
Visiting the company’s airplane hangar gave the Ramsey first-graders as much of an aviation experience as possible without being in the air, said Jackson. Jones thanked the Fouches for setting up the event. “It was a great idea for the kids,” Jones said.