The following remarks were delivered at our recent Aviation Dreams Gala on November 12, 2016. Three young people whose lives intersected at Hiller Aviation Museum—participating in and delivering programs—spoke to an audience of Museum supporters about their experience. Installment 2 of 3.
I don’t exactly know where my passion for flight originated. No one in my family was a pilot or even in the aviation field. And yet even before my age reached double digits I was giving grade school speeches on Charles Lindbergh and on the difference between the Thunder Birds and Blue Angles.
I do know that Hiller Aviation Museum is a place that fosters passion for aviation, and I was fortunate enough to be part of the education department teaching summer aviation camps and after school programs. I hope I was able to share my passion for aviation and pass it on to the children I got to work with through this Museum’s programs.
During my time here, when I was still an engineering student, I found the diversity of technical achievements to be incredibly intriguing. I would routinely look up at the AR-5 and think about building my own small plane and how I would build a component or layout a configuration of my own. I would point out to kids some of the things I found most interesting like the oblique wing of the NASA AD-1 and encourage them to test the concept with the balsa gliders we would fly. I would show them all the different configurations Stanley Hiller Jr. made like coaxial rotating blades, no tail rotor helicopters, and tip jet rotors, and encourage them to think outside the box, experiment, and to try anything.
In a way, my career so far, has been the grown-up version of a Hiller Aviation Camp. In camp I would build and launch rockets with children. In my career I have built and tested full-size rocket motors for the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo at Scaled Composites. In camp I would help kids figure how to build balsa rubber powered band airplanes. In my career I now figure out how to build airplanes. In camp I would teach kids the basics of flight in the Flight Sim Zone and tell them where to go. In my career I now get to be a flight test engineer and tell the pilot where to go to collect the data I need. All of this is a testament to authenticity of the aviation experience that this Museum provides for so many kids.
For me, flight is something that never loses its wonder. It doesn’t matter how many calculations I do, how many wind tunnel experiments I perform, or flights I go on, I still find flight fascinating and magical. I still stop and watch an airplane take off with a sense of wonder that an invisible fluid is able to lift thousands of pounds into the air.
Hiller Aviation Museum is a place that can plant that seed and develop a child’s interest in aviation. Just like myself having no major event, but rather a handful of small encounters, this museum provides those encounters with aviation and allows visitors and program participants to gain a sense of wonder, experience the excitement, and interact with people who inspire them to consider aviation as an avenue worthy of their exploration. Those interactions can propel a person for the rest of their life.
My name is Jake Jacot, and I’m a Design Engineer at Epic Aircraft working on the certification effort of the E1000, a six-place all carbon-fiber turboprop aircraft. I want to say thank you to Hiller Aviation Museum, and thank you to you for making Aviation Dreams possible.
Visit www.hiller.org/donate to make a gift today and help inspire the next generation of aviators.