FLIGHT SCHOOL: Natchez Middle School aviation students learn through hot air balloon rides
Posted 5:21 p.m. on Friday, October 28, 2022
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NATCHEZ – About 40 middle school students from Natchez got their aviation lesson in the air Thursday morning with hot air balloon rides.
Students in Elizabeth Greer’s class take a special engineering program called “Project Lead the Way.” This month they are studying aviation.
The course began with pilot Kurt Vitense testing the students’ knowledge of what they have learned about hot air balloons so far. His crew began to inflate the balloon’s envelope by blowing cold air into it from a very powerful fan.
When he heats this air using the burners, it begins to float, Vitense explained.
“Who remembers why that is?” he asked the class.
Several students gave the answer.
“Density,” they said.
Last year, Vitense inflated his balloon at Robert Lewis Middle School to demonstrate how hot air is less dense than the air outside the balloon. This year, students were able to fly in a captive hot air balloon flight. It was optional for students, of course.
“I’m dizzy,” said Brandon McDowell, one of the students.
“Me too, and I’m a pilot,” Vitense said.
Other students tiptoed and smiled at the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride.
“I’m so excited,” Jasmine Ashcraft said before stepping into the basket.