Bear Exploration Center students visit Maxwell AFB for Aerospace Day

  • Published
  • By Steve Cox
  • Civil Air Patrol Public Affairs

Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters and the Montgomery Chapter 102 Air and Space Forces Association aerospace education teams have partnered with Montgomery Public School’s Bear Exploration Center to support its aerospace/STEM programs for over a decade. After a two-year pause for field trips, 200 fourth and fifth-grade students once again visited Maxwell Air Force Base on May 13 for Aerospace Day.

Brig. Gen. Leslie A. Maher, Jeanne M. Holm Center for Officer Accessions and Citizen Development commander, greeted the students in front of the Wright Flyer in Historic Air Park. Joining Maher were leaders from the Montgomery Chapter of the Air and Space Forces Association, Civil Air Patrol, Air University Foundation, the U.S. Space Force 13th Delta Operations Squadron, and the Montgomery Public Schools Board. A special presentation by Orville and Wilbur Wright impersonators provided a historic background of the Wright brothers’ 1910 flight school at Maxwell.

During her remarks to the students, Maher shared that as a young girl from South Dakota, she did not know the world of aviation was a career option available to her. It was after becoming an aircraft maintainer and advice from a local recruiter that she realized the opportunity. Maher told the students that knowing about CAP and touring Maxwell puts them at an advantage. 

“You will find that most careers or passions you can have, there are links to math, science and even aviation,” Maher said. “It can seem hard or unattainable, but do not be scared of the hard. Go after it; the hard is what propels you.”

After the welcome ceremony, the students toured Maxwell to learn about the base’s history and its current and future missions. They explored the airplanes at Historic Air Park and then traveled to tour the Air Traffic Control Tower and Simulations Room, the Maxwell Aviation Fire Station, and the Civil Air Patrol hangar with STEM activities and a CAP airplane on static display. A CAP cadet was on hand to introduce the CAP cadet program to the students.

“Students have been involved in a lot of virtual learning and have had to keep a safe distance from others, which has reduced the opportunities to engage with those outside their safety net of school. Resuming this event allowed our Aerospace Education teams and Maxwell AFB volunteers to demonstrate how much we care about the students and their education,” said Susan Mallett, CAP’s aerospace/STEM education outreach coordinator. “It also enables the students to experience opportunities to excite them about possible career opportunities they can explore after visiting the various base locations and listening to those who spoke to them about their careers.”

The students participated in STEM activities that complemented their involvement in CAP’s Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) program, in which the school has been participating since 2007. The students wore purple ACE program shirts donated by the Montgomery AFA chapter to commemorate the Month of the Military Child and took home gift bags donated by Air University and Civil Air Patrol.

They are now involved in a classroom essay contest on the theme of how they can be future innovators in aerospace. The essay winners from each grade will be able to take an orientation flight with their teachers in Civil Air Patrol aircraft next Tuesday at Montgomery Aviation.