Region 8 Kids Flying High

January 31, 2004 -- Posted at 3:32 p.m. CST

JONESBORO--Kids from all over the state of Arkansas were at the Jonesboro Municipal Airport Saturday morning for a little bit of flying. Home-schooled children who participate in the Arkansas Virtual School Program have been studying the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart--so a day of flying was defiantly in the books.

About 40 brave children showed up Saturday to take a short flight...and some who had never been in a plane before.

Hannah Higgins of Helena said she loved flying.

"When you get up there it looks like little hotwheels on the ground," exclaimed Higgins.

"The people just looked like little bitty ants, it was so cool," agreed Delanie Newson of Jacksonville.

But Saturday's field trip wasn't all just about fun, there were lessons to be learned as well.

Lisa Williams is a teacher for the Arkansas Virtual School and said the kids were having a great time learning hands-on about aviation.

"We have students who have been studying about the Wright Brothers this month and so we are here to tie in with that," said Williams.

Parent Ashley Higgins said that he was able to teach his daughter a lot about planes.

"Most of the time I was trying to point out to her what the instruments were doing and what the pilot was doing to make the instruments do those things and point out things out the window, so she would understand what was happening in flight. Why the airplane did what it did," said Higgins.

Even though there's a test later, these kids didn't seem to mind.

First time flyer Delanie Newson was grinning from ear to ear as she stepped off of the Piper Arrow she had just flown in. She said she couldn't wait to get a chance to fly again.

"It was really cool. I got to fly the plane. It was so cool, she let me fly it all by myself. It's just a great experience, I loved it!" said Newson.

Pilots at Skyventure say giving youngsters the opportunity to fly--some for the first time--is like no other experience.

"You get to see their eyes kind of light up. A lot of kids kind of dream of flying and things like that, and I know I did when I was a little kid. I can remember that first ride that I took in an airplane, and it's nice to be able to pass that along to other kids," said Justin Shipley a Skyventure flight instructor.

And while the experience today may mold some of these kids into future's not for everyone.

When asked if she wanted to learn how to fly a plane after going up, Hannah Higgins shook her head.

"No, mam, I still want to be a marine biologist, I don't think I'll want to learn how to fly an airplane. Pushing those buttons looked hard," laughed Higgins.

The Arkansas Virtual School is a web based home schooling program. Each student is paired with a certified teacher and the kids get to take outings like Saturday's throughout the year. Their next trip will bring them back to Jonesboro where they will tour the Riceland plant.