Young pilots take flight in Dayton, both in manned and unmanned aircraft

Dayton, Ohio – The Gem City has been an advanced technology hub for generations and a world leader in aviation since the invention of powered flight. With a vibrant aerospace and defense community surrounding Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, a growing number of advanced technical degree programs offered by local colleges and universities, and the unique distinction as the home of Orville and Wilber Wright, Dayton is the ideal location for a world-class aviation summer camp that prepares the next generation of flyers. It is the ideal location for Air Camp.

Air Camp is a weeklong adventure in aviation and aeronautics that mixes the rich history of the region, current capabilities, and technologies of the future. Held at Wright State University, the aero-focused summer camp is specially designed to engage middle school students in the wonders of flight and the many applications of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to careers in aviation and the growing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry.

Highlighted this year is a local partnership in UAS training and education between Sinclair Community College and Riverside Research, a not-for-profit organization with broad UAS expertise in the defense and commercial markets. Campers attending the first of three scheduled Air Camp sessions were given a preview of the Introduction to UAS short course created by Riverside Research and offered through the Sinclair UAS Training and Certification Center.

“UAS is a hot topic right now, especially in the Dayton-Springfield region,” said Dr. Andrew Shepherd, Collegiate and STEM Programs Manager at Riverside Research. “If Ohio is selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to host one of the six proposed UAS test sites, middle school students from across the Miami Valley will have tremendous employment opportunities when it comes time to join the UAS workforce. Air Camp is a great opportunity to start the workforce development process early.”

Joining Dr. Shepherd for the presentation was Don Long, UAS Program Manager at Sinclair. “Air Camp is a fantastic event that offers so many rich learning opportunities,” said Long. “It was a thrill to see the students get so excited about the applications and future impact of UAS technologies.”

After previewing the UAS short course, campers enjoyed indoor flying activities at the Sinclair Community College Fieldhouse, including flying simulators, remote controlled aircraft stations, and a professionally piloted quadcopter demo. The UAS experience ended with a trip to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport to visit SelectTech, a local UAS manufacturer, a tour of the Air Traffic Control Tower, and an actual UAS flight demonstration from the airfield. Watch video from the flyover here.

Campers also explored the National Museum of the United States Air Force, met scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory, planned an air rescue mission, experienced flight training, and even flew as a copilot in a general aviation aircraft as part of the Air Camp experience. Two more sessions are scheduled for July.

“As a pilot, I am always happy to share my love for aviation,” said Dr. Shepherd. “Seeing their genuine excitement was great. I wish Air Camp had been around when I was in middle school!”

More information about Air Camp is available at