Pearson fundraiser exceeds $123,000

Proceeds from lunch, auction to aid youth education programs

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

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Saturday’s lunch and auction raised more than $123,000 for the Pearson Field Education Center.

The proceeds will support youth aviation education at the center, 201A East Reserve St. Its STEM-based activities introduce students, and the public, to potential careers in aviation through a curriculum that includes the history of Pearson Field.

The center is a program of the nonprofit Fort Vancouver National Trust. It is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays for youth and families to enjoy free activities, including glider building and flight simulation.

Saturday’s keynote speaker was Jessica Cox, the first armless person to acquire a pilot’s license.

Money raised at the event will go toward a range of programs, including one coming up on Saturday — Open Cockpit Day. It’s a day of free aviation-related activities, and opportunities to climb into the cockpits of various aircraft.

There won’t be another Open Cockpit Day for at least three months, said Toni Wise, the trust’s marketing and communications manager.

The money also will benefit education resource fairs, school outreach programs and the free Saturday sessions in the learning lab.

Another program starting in about a month is the series of weeklong aviation summer camps.

“There is a $450 fee, but there still are costs for equipment, materials and transportation for field trips,” Wise said.

Aviation camps

The five-week-long aviation summer camps offer opportunities to build and fly a remote-controlled airplane, visiting the Portland International Airport control tower and pilot a real aircraft over Vancouver.

Garrett Schmidt, director of the center, will instruct campers in the basics of flight through simulators and other hands-on methods and will lead the field trips.

Camps are for those 9 to 17 years old. Sessions run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday at Pearson Field Education Center, except the week of July 12, when the camp is sponsored by the Camas Washougal Aviation Association at Grove Field in Camas.

The schedule starts with the Al Coupe remote control plane summer camp, June 28 through July 2.

Aviation 101 Summer Camp Sessions are July 12 to 16 (at Grove Field in Camas), July 26 to 30, Aug. 9 to 13 and Aug. 23 to 27.

The cost for each week. is $450. Register by calling 360-992-1815 or go to fortvan.org/aviationeducation to find the registration form.