August 27, 2008 · Updated 3:58 PM
ARLINGTON It was a program that was planned nearly two years ago, and Gary Elliott is glad to see it finally taking flight.
The Mission Aviation Training Academy and The Point Church of Arlington are hosting an aviation summer camp, organized by Brigade Air of Tuscon, Ariz., for 14- to 18-year-olds interested in becoming pilots.
Elliott is the current director of flight operations at MATA, but he credited his predecessor, Mike Crowell, with first approaching Brigade Air about bringing the program to Arlington.
Their dialogue never came to fruition, because he died, Elliott said. It was only when I flew a student down to Tuscon and met with the folks at a Brigade Air booth at the Mission Aviation Day, that we talked about getting it going. Mikes widow, Laurie, really encouraged it.
MATA, located at the Arlington Municipal Airport, was founded in 1998 as a non-profit means of helping train pilots, not only to meet the qualifications for major mission aviation organizations, but also to serve smaller, independent mission ministries.
Brigade Airs summer aviation camp, which runs from Aug. 19-25 in Arlington, was originally developed in 2001 to target young people interested in exploring aviation as a service ministry.
Since the programs inauguration, there have been more than 1,100 campers at 65 week-long camps in various states throughout the country.
Elliott explained that campers will go through ground school, in subjects such as basic aerodynamic principles and aircraft systems, and receive aircraft familiarization and introductory flight orientation on all five full days of the course, weather permitting.
He also promised that campers would take a field trip to a local aviation museum, as well as experiencing mission aviation through videos and stories from field-experienced missionary pilots.
Everyone involved in aviation knows that operation of aircraft is very expensive, but MATA is collaborating with Brigade Air to underwrite the costs of this aviation summer camp, to keep the price as low as possible and make it affordable for more young people, Elliott said. The Point Church is co-hosting the camp to provide inexpensive housing and feeding of the campers, and partnering by Brigade Air and MATA will effectively provide a $1,000 scholarship to each camper. That reduces the cost to only $450 per camper. Between that and the pilots who will be donating their time, thats a pretty good deal.
Elliott hopes to attract between one and two dozen campers to the MATA hangar, and emphasized that seats are still open.
Brigade Airs Web site is www.brigadeair.org, while the MATA Web site is www.mata-usa.org. You can call Brigade Air at 520-408-2359, or the MATA office at 360-435-8179, or 425-231-5855, to get more information about, or register for, the Aug. 19-25 youth aviation summer camp.