Learning to fly: EAA opens $6.2 million education center 
July 12, 2022
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  • All systems were go for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s new 30,000-square-foot Education Center. 

    There’s something for current and future pilots. 

    On Tuesday, officials cut the ribbon on the $6.2 million education center. Construction began 15 months ago. It includes an education center, conference center and pilot proficiency center. 

    “We’re going to take off from an aircraft carrier,” said Jeremy Desruisseaux, Director of the Flight & Proficiency Program. 

    He demonstrated one of the 16 top-of-the-line flight simulators. Desruisseaux said the center is unparalleled in the region. 

    “We’re going to develop a whole suite of programming that we’ll do here. Everything from getting a sport pilot certificate to coming in for weekend seminars and things like that,” said Desruisseaux. 

    They’ll hold training sessions during AirVenture later this month. 

    “It’s more for the general aviation community, so non-commercial aviation, folks with their pilot’s license, airplane owners, folks that are transitioning to different airplanes, that type of stuff,” Desruisseaux explained. 

    The second level of the new building is all about the future of flight. The Youth Education Center holds five hands-on tech labs. 

    “Any work that the youth do here will have lifelong implications, whether they choose to go into aviation. Certainly, their experiences here could inspire them to move on to careers in aviation, which would be fabulous,” said Ron Connolly, who leads the education efforts for EAA. 

    Learning was already underway inside the new center. 

    “This group here is working on compressed air rockets,” Connolly said. 

    Among the group, Anya Smith of Hortonville constructed a rocket from paper and tape. 

    “It’s interesting coming in here and realizing, oh, these things are more than just planes,” Smith said. “There’s a whole entire science behind it. How they’re built and actually getting to experience that today is cool and sheds new light on EAA.” 

    The Youth Education Center includes a wind tunnel and 3D printers. It will allow for year-round learning and unique educational opportunities. 

    “They can develop, from basic to very advanced designs on cad programs and then bring them into this lab and further develop them and apply them to the actual hard electronics,” Connolly said. 

    When the rocket class went outside, Smith and others were able to launch their creations. 

    “I didn’t expect it to go that far. It’s just paper and tape. It was something simple and easy to grasp,” said Smith. “Even someone who isn’t interested in engineering, it’s something that they can easily partake in.” 

    The EAA is looking to benefit beginners and pros alike with its new offerings. 

    AirVenture kicks off July 25 and ends July 31. Over 600,000 people attended the event last year.