Aviation Group in Steubenville Encouraging Teens to Fly

A newly formed group is seeking to encourage teenagers to look to the sky and dream of future careers in aviation.

Aviation Explorer Post 787, a division of the Boy Scouts of America, is inviting young men and women ages 14-20 to come join their group, which next meets at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Jefferson County Airpark.

The purpose of the group is to educate and inspire youths about career opportunities available to them in the field of aviation.

Those participating get to take plane rides with private pilots, as well as visit local airports and businesses and schools associated with aviation.

AEP 787 formed in late 2016, and hopes to take its first trip to the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport in March. Youths will get a chance to tour the control tower there and perhaps meet with National Guard unit members based at the airport.

On tap for future meetings could be trips to aircraft mechanic schools and a visit to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

AEP 787 plans to meet the fourth Saturday of each month inside the terminal room at the Jefferson County Airpark.

“We want to show young men and women some of the careers out there in aviation,” Dan Otto, pilot and Explorer Post advisor, said. “There are literally hundreds of jobs in aviation — including those in newer technology such as drones.”

Otto, 32, participated in a similar program at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport when he was a teenager. He said the experience led him to get his pilot’s license, and put him on the path toward his current career.

He met his current boss, John Meriwether, while in the program and now works in computer programming and drafting at Merco Marine in Wellsburg.

Meriwether and Otto are part of the advisory committee for AEP 787. And Otto also asked Kathy Polomik — a pilot and nurse who advised him as a teenager — to join the committee.

“When most people think aviation, they think about pilots, but in fact pilots are only the tip of the iceberg as far as the many different career paths available in the field of aviation,” Otto said. “Our program is designed to be fun and educational for boys and girls ages 14-20, all while learning about many different careers and opportunities in the field of aviation.”