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Community Stories

The Flint Hiss EAA and Wing Nuts Kids advancing the field of aviation!

The Flint Hills Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA, has a program for students called the Wing Nuts Kids, in hopes of advancing the field of aviation and getting young students interested in aviation. The Wing Nuts Kids learn to restore fabric airplanes, flight controls, from the flight simulator they built, and get the opportunity to fly in planes. Students meet in Junction City every second Saturday of the month and have a turnout of around 8 – 18 students. This program reaches students from Riley, Geary, Dickinson and Clay County and is open to girls and boys middle to high school age. Younger children may attend but cannot start working on the planes until they are in middle school, they can observe and use the flight simulator.

This program started in 2003 after the first Iraq invasion. It was discovered that there were children spending their weekends alone because their parents were gone. This program was something for the children to do and provided an additional adult figure in their lives.

Grant money from the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation lets the Flint Hills EAA purchase materials and planes for restoring. Also because of the grant money, there is no fee for student to participate in the Wing Nuts Kids. For every 3 – 4 students there is one volunteer from the Flint Hills EAA chapter to teach and monitor the students work. Each plane takes about 3 – 4 years to restore, though it takes a while, this is the only place in Kansas the children can build and fly planes.

The Junction City High School works closely with the Flint Hills EAA chapter and allows students to do an internship for credit with them. These students hope to continue working in the field of aviation. There is one student that started with the Wings Nuts Kids in middle school and fell in love with aviation. He continued through high school with the Flint Hills EAA chapter working on restoring planes. Post high school graduation this student went on to K-State Salina to get a degree in aviation and is now working as a commercial pilot in Illinois. Without the grant programs from the community foundation, the Flint Hills EAA chapter would not be able to provide opportunities to students and continue interest in the field of aviation. 

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