BREMERTON — On Thursday, Aug. 24, a group of girl scouts defied gravity.
“I’m 15, and (Mikela Arnall is) 14,” said Kayla Cortes. “I got to just fly a plane. How often do 15-year-olds get to do that?”
The answer, at least for the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, is, about six times a year since the Discover Aviation Day program was started in 2016.
“Dave Cisneros is the husband of a longtime volunteer and service unit manager for Girl Scouts Port Orchard, Cindee,” said Liz Brown, communicate engagement manager for the Girls Scouts of Western Washington. “Dave works for Avian Flight Center, as the lead machinist. He wanted to bring his passion for aviation to the Girl Scouts, so we partnered up to create this program in 2016.”
Since it started about two years ago, Brown said about 115 girls ages 12 and up have participated in the program, which includes them doing a group pre-flight check, a tour of the Avian Flight Center in the Bremerton Airport and a “parts of the plane” education, a session of flight simulation and paper airplane challenges, “where they discover the four forces of flight: lift, drag, thrust and weight” and, the real hook of the program, flying a plane.
The girls go up in groups of two for sessions that last about 75 minutes, giving each girl a half-hour of piloting time. The first-time pilots, with the help of experienced pilot Mary Suligoy, get to take off, fly above Kitsap and land.
“I feel like I got so much more than I thought I would get out of that,” Cortes said after she landed the plane. “I was up there and I was just looking at the ground and I was like, ‘This isn’t real, is it? I’m not really up here.’ ”
Cortes was partnered with Arnall for the flying session.
“I was afraid she was going to kill us,” Arnall said, joking of course. “It was really fun.”
Cortes said there was a lot that went into flying that many may not have…