Boy Scouts prepare to earn Aviation Merit Badge

By Daisy Silos

The Frontiers of Flight Museum hosted its first Boy Scouts of America Aviation Merit Badge Clinic of the year on Saturday, Feb. 17. The Museum has offered this clinic twice a year for over 15 years. The class provides Scouts with opportunities to learn from pilot and aviation experts to help them complete the requirements to earn their aviation merit badge.

“We give the boys the information they need to be able to qualify for the Boy Scout merit badge,” Bob Welch, Frontiers of Flight Museum Curator, said. “We don’t issue the merit badge, but we give them the classes. We give them information on basic aircraft terminology. They learn about the basic parts of an aircraft, types of engines, and the various differences between pilot certificates.”

Before the clinic found its home at the museum, for three years it took place at the Dallas Executive Airport to give the Scouts an opportunity to fly with the Experimental Aircraft Association.

“We tried it three times and got rained out twice, so it basically became this situation of having the boys expecting to go out and learn to fly,” Welch said. “If we couldn’t fly there was a major morale drop, and we had to try and over-teach the morale drop. After that, we decided to bring it back to the museum.”

Being at the museum gives the Boy Scouts the opportunity to learn from the museum volunteers about aviation careers and airport facilities. They also have a guided tour of the aircrafts and aviation related exhibits at the museum.

Brent Bristol joined his two sons in the clinic and learned from the volunteers.

“It’s been a great experience for me and my boys,” Bristol said. “It’s helped having people who worked in the industry talk about their experiences and explain how the aircrafts work. I hope my boys get an appreciation for aviation out of this experience.”

First Class Boy Scout Aidan Loste enjoyed the guided tour of the museum.

“It was really fun just touring around and seeing the variety of airplanes,” Loste said. “We’ve learned about the different types of airplanes like the Flying Pancake and how they’ve evolved throughout the years.”

In addition to the guided tour, the Scouts also operated the museum’s flight simulator.

“In lieu of taking an actual flight on an airplane, they get to participate in a flight simulation exercise,” Welch said. “In doing so, they learn how to plan a flight and then execute the flight on the simulator.”

The Scouts were guided by the clinic instructors to operate and land their plane at the Dallas Love Field Airport using the simulator.

“My favorite thing has been the flight simulator,” Loste said. “It was so much fun. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, it was just really fun.”

Welch hopes the students leave the clinic not just with the requirements to earn their aviation merit badge, but with interests in pursuing careers in aviation.

“My hope is the students get the experience from this clinic where it interests them to continue doing something with aviation,” Welch said. “I want to give them an idea of some of the things they can do as a career and hope to give them a push towards a career in aviation.”

The museum will host its next Boy Scouts of America Aviation Merit Badge Clinic on Sept. 15.