Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Learning to fly: Ground school offered for free to Portage, Wisconsin, students

Materials to be used in a soon-to-be scheduled ground school offered by the EAA chapter in Portage. The group is spreading the word about these free classes for local students as it continues its push to get younger in membership. 

Students interested in learning to fly will soon get their chance.

Experimental Aircraft Association’s Portage chapter has secured materials and a certified flight instructor for a ground school to be offered free to area students of ages 12 to 18. The group will host a scheduling meeting for interested participants at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Dec. 11 in the chapter hangar at Portage Municipal Airport.

“Come to find out more about it, and give us your input on good times to have it,” Leif Gregerson, Chapter 371 president, said. Those interested in the ground school but who cannot make the meeting should call Gregerson at 608-617-7187.

The ground school is intended for youths, but anyone older than 18 who is interested in participating is encouraged to inquire about open seats, Gregerson said. Fees might apply for adults.

The number of classes in the ground school is still to be determined, but Gregerson estimated the total class time would amount to about 18 hours.

The free ground school is part of the chapter’s recent push to get younger in membership. Those efforts seem to be working so far, Chapter 371 member Matt Paulsen said.

“Kids — about three or four of them — they’re showing up to the meetings, and we’d never had kids before. To see them in meetings, some of them with their parents, it’s like, wow – that’s what we wanted.

“There’s such a shortage of pilots in the aviation industry,” Paulsen continued. “Even with the drones and other things that can be hard to fathom right now — the job opportunities are wide open. It’s an exciting time if you’re interested in aviation.”

Chapter 371 has about 20 members. Students have been helping members work on a 1963 Piper Colt, an experience that has engaged everyone, Paulsen said. “It’s eye-opening to look at, touch and see how things work; the trouble-shooting involved in rigging things – figuring out why things might not be working.

“It’s the precision you need to make sure everything works in the air. It’s really good for these kids. It’s not like we’re haphazardly putting it together – it comes down to every nut and bolt.”

Ground school, Paulsen said, covers “the basics” of flight — how things fly and what makes them fly; the classifications of aircraft; the classifications of airspace; the different licenses you’d need to fly; the weather and how it affects flying; navigation signals and communications; the parts of airplanes, what they do and how they operate together; and medical conditions like hypoxia. Ground school prepares you to take the Airman Knowledge test, paving the way for Flight School.

Chapter 371 meets regularly in the hangar on the second Monday of each month at 5:30 p.m.

For more information about ground school or becoming a member, call Gregerson or visit the chapter’s website,

If you go

What: Ground school scheduling meeting

When: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 11

Where: EAA Chapter 371 hangar at Portage Municipal Airport

Cost: None


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