VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Students from Floyd E. Kellam High School in Virginia Beach visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Dec. 2 to learn about military career opportunities as aviation mechanics.
The students are currently enrolled in the school's Power and Transportation class, where they learn the different parts of engines by disassembling and reassembling them throughout the duration of the course.
"This is great; it's like every kid's dream," said Tim Kennedy, Kellam High School teacher. "I wish someone would have shown me this when I was a kid."
Kennedy has been an educator since 1988 after receiving a full scholarship to, and graduating from, the State University of New York at Oswego, New York.
"I love working with the kids," Kennedy said. "I love seeing their faces light up when they learn something new. I have several students who have gone from my class, which is an exploratory class, to the technical center where they get more specific with the different careers available."
This is the fifth time Kennedy has brought his students to NAS Oceana. Due to the overwhelmingly positive response from the students, the tour has become a two-day event to accommodate more than 80 students.
"This has been a fun experience and since my grandfather was a master chief in the Navy, I want to be in the Navy as well," said Patrick Mulcahy, an 11th grade student.
The first stop on the tour was Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA) Oceana, where they were shown the process of modular constructions, as well as the different work centers.
"I think it is great that they are thinking about the military at their age; if they stay focused and keep their noses clean, they can have a great career at a young age," said Aviation Machinist's Mate (AD) 2nd Class Michael Broadbent, a maintenance supervisor at FRCMA.
Broadbent led the tour for the students, where Sailors showed them high pressure compressors, low pressure turbines and fan modules.
"This tour is like a reality check for the students because most of the time they see the movies and don't know what the military actually does when they are working behind the scenes," said AD3 Rachael Ellington. Ellington also shared her experiences in the military during the tour.
The second stop on the tour was Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Oceana, where the students learned about the integrated virtual environment maintenance trainer, used for troubleshooting aircraft. With the trainer, the maintenance team can open any compartment of the aircraft through touchscreens, remove components and replace them.
"This is usually the highlight of the tour for most students because they can relate to the touchscreens and video games to the maintenance simulator," said Senior Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate Jeff Vanwyk. "It appeals to them more and the Navy is testing to see if this will keep the attention of the younger generation. I became an instructor for my last tour so I can pass on my wealth of knowledge."
The last stop for the students after lunch at the NAS Oceana Hornets' Nest Galley was a visit to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83, also known as the "Rampagers." VFA-83 is an F/A -18C Hornet strike fighter squadron and is a part of Carrier Air Wing 7.
The group was split in half and one group was given a brief in the squadron's ready room and the other group was given a tour of the hangar. While in the hangar, the students were able to view one of the Rampagers' jets with an explanation of its major features. They were shown the location of the engines, weapons and external fuel tanks. Many students were very interested in the cockpit's ejection seats, as well as all the screens pilots use. After the brief and the tour, the students rotated and the other group had a chance to visit the hangar.
"It is always a great experience to give excited kids a hands-on tour of the F/A-18 and our squadron," said Lt. Brendan Buholzer, VFA-83 public affairs officer. "They are always so interested in the overall concept of being in a ready room and taking a look at the cockpit."
Buholzer, who has been in the Navy five years and has been with VFA-83 for one year, discussed with the students how he became a pilot, going from high school to college to Officer Candidate School. He also talked about what flight school was like and the different type of officers aviators can be, such as a naval flight officer or weapons systems officer. He explained in detail the progression of a career in aviation and typical operations.
"I appreciate the opportunity to influence any, if even just one, of the students as they start to set personal goals in life and see the relevance of their hard work at school," said Buholzer.
For more news from Naval Air Station Oceana, visit www.navy.mil/local/oceana/.