Laurel Nokomis’ mothers and sons visit Florida Flight Training

VENICE — Tanner Reichert, a sixth-grader at Laurel Nokomis School, chewed a bite of his donut and watched as the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office helicopter descended for a landing Friday night at the Florida Flight Training Center — which greeted mother/son 2022 from school Night Flight at Venice Municipal Airport.

“He loves airplanes,” his mother Lindsay Reichert said, as Tanner patiently swallowed.

When finished, he said the planes are “clean, they’re fast”, then added that he wanted to fly one day.

When asked what he wanted to fly, he stopped and said, “Fly a helicopter.

“I’d love to fly that one,” Tanner added, winking at the law enforcement helicopter.

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Ann Allen, a parent from the Laurel Nokomis Parent Teacher Organization, wanted to try something a little different for the annual mother-son night and thought the airport venue provided the perfect opportunity to keep the boys interested and maybe… be to whet their appetite for science, engineering technology and mathematics.

Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Aviation Unit (a 2012 Bell 407GX helicopter) Detective Hayden Gallof poses with Rachael Cornwell and her sons Addison, 9, and Aston, 6.

About 100 moms, with 175 sons, RSVP’d for the event, which sold out in two days.

“I just wanted to think bigger than doing it in a bowling alley or a jump; I wanted to give boys and moms a cool experience together,” said Allen, who is not an aspiring pilot herself. “We just decided to reach out to the airport, we pitched the idea to them and they were very receptive.”

“It’s a first introduction to the aviation industry; who knows where this may lead them?

A gateway to career opportunities

In addition to the Sheriff’s Helicopter and the U.S. Coast Guard Helicopter, the evening included four static aircraft displays outside and a fifth inside the Florida Flight Maintenance Hangar, as well as a a group of flight instructors and members of the Venice EAA Young Eagles, who were available to talk about planes, flying and possible future careers.

Moritz Koester, the new CEO of Florida Flight Training, said it was easy to say “yes” to the parent group when approached.

United States Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class E6 inspects the tail rotor of the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter after landing at Venice Airport.

“I have children myself and I know how great it is to provide opportunities like this,” said Koester, who was joined by his wife and three children – including their two sons. , Lias, 5, and Joshua, 3. “I was inspired early on to get into aviation and it’s just a pleasure to be able to open our doors and share our passion with the kids.

Some of the adults present, such as Paul Cellez, coordinator of the young eagles of the EAA, are regulars in the initiation to flight of young people.

“That’s what we’re here for, giving them plane rides, we have get-togethers once a month, and we have local pilots who fly the kids,” Cellez said.

The program began in 1992 to give young people between the ages of 8 and 17 the opportunity to fly in a general aviation aircraft. There were no flights on Friday, but information on upcoming events can be found by visiting or emailing Cellez at [email protected]

Students and moms line up to see the United States Coast Guard's MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter.

Alina Zhulina, who attended with her son Michael Trubkin, 10, a fifth-grade student, was happy that all activities were land-based.

“We didn’t know what to expect,” Zhulina said. “At first I thought it would be a real robbery, but he said, ‘Mom, don’t worry, no one will be robbing today.'”

Michael, who had a green cast on his left forearm, said his favorite plane was a Beechcraft Bonanza B36TC because it had a back seat.

Michael said he wanted to be a pilot in the military – specifically a Navy pilot.

Coincidentally, this Bonanza belonged to retired Navy Captain Jay Fahs, Jr., a local attorney.

Fahs, who escorted the children on and off his plane, said his wife was friendly with the organizers but also enjoyed teaching the boys.

“I like to get kids interested in technical things,” added the 30-year-old retired veteran.

First graders Jameson Bailey and Sashti Suresh enjoyed the Piper Warrior II – one of the flight school’s aircraft – on display.

“We were like playing with the controls,” Jameson said.

Sashti added that it was “super fun”.

The Coast Guard’s MH060 Jayhawk helicopter generated the most buzz, as mothers and sons lined up to be whisked away in small groups to tour the rescue vehicle.

“Coast Guard was really a huge, big moment in the event,” Allen said. “I think everyone was blown away, including myself.”

“My son was like, ‘Mom, I gotta go into the rescue basket and feel what it was like to be rescued,'” Allen added, referring to his 8-year-old son Austin. “I feel like he was able to learn new things.”

At the maintenance hangar, a shiny Italian-made Tecnam P2006T MKII premium edition, also operated by Florida Flight Training, received its share of oohs and aahs.

Flight instructor Kyle Busalacchi noted that the boys were all interested in the “bells and whistles” of the plane.

Lias Koster, 5, and brother Joshua Koster, 3, discover a Beechcraft Bonanza with dad, Moritz Koster.

“A lot of future pilots here,” he added.

Laurel Nokomis manager Ray Wilson was impressed with the whole concept of the evening.

A unique evening

“This is my sixth year at Laurel but I think it’s a first,” Wilson said. “It ties into the uniqueness of our school, being the only K-8 model in the district and just giving our students something different – ​​I think something different.

“I love the exhibit piece because there’s also a career piece attached to it too,” added Wilson, who praised the PTO for the event, as well as its fundraising effort to provide tutoring at school.

“It’s not just their school support, as you can see, they provide other avenues and places for kids,” Wilson said, “Knowing it’s in the backyard is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Allen was thrilled with the variety of industry professionals – including avionics, mechanics and pilots – who volunteered their time to provide a complete picture of the aviation industry.

She is also planning a follow-up visit next year.

“We really wanted to take it to a whole new level and make those memories with our sons and have them forever,” Allen said. “It’s not often that mothers are cool with their sons.

“I think this event allowed us to connect with them in a different way – hopefully we achieved that.”

Earle Kimel primarily covers southern Sarasota County for the Herald-Tribune and can be reached at [email protected] Support local journalism with a digital subscription to the Herald-Tribune.

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