Milestone Scout Aviation Merit Badge Class in October

October 26, 2019

By Charley Taylor

We had a large group clustered around our conference table for classroom instruction.

In a week that saw two American astronauts perform the first all-women spacewalk, the Pacific Coast Air Museum hosted the first ever Aviation Merit Badge Class to include female scouts. Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America inaugurated the inclusion of 11 to 17 year old young ladies into the newly renamed organization – Scouts of America.  We at the Pacific Coast Air Museum have eagerly awaited the first female scouts.  On Saturday October 19, 2019, three young ladies attended: milestone achieved! 

Fourteen Scouts traveled from Folsom, Patterson, Benicia, Brentwood, San Ramon, Fremont, San Anselmo, and from right here in Santa Rosa.  Danelle Jacobs and her son Evan coordinated the morning registration.  Evan, an Aviation Explorer Scout, also served as the teaching assistant during PCAM’s one-week aviation STEM class at Sonoma State University this past summer.  Dave Watson, who initiated a direct mailing outreach to Bay Area Scout troops, organized much of the paperwork needed to complete the process.  Dave Kinzie generously supplied the Vitamin D for classroom breaks – doughnuts.

Although deteriorating weather eventually precluded local VFR flights (always a Merit Badge highlight), the day began with an introduction by PCAM’s President, Dave Ford.   Art Hayssen’s classroom sessions included aviation history, principles of flight, evolution of aircraft design, and identification of the many types of aircraft seen in Dana Hunt’s video, Full Throttle.  

The riveting demonstration showed Scouts how aircraft are typically assembled.

Kevin Quirk conducted his excellent hands-on rivet lessons where scouts and a few parents were able to use hand tools to join two pieces of aircraft aluminum by riveting them together.  This step is performed hundreds of times when building an airplane.  

CJ Stevens and his VR Simulator Instructors, Tomas Acuna and Evan Beach, guided each Scout through their flights around the Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport (KSTS).  Scouts “flew” several different aircraft including the F-18 Hornet, the Cessna 172, the 747, and the iconic WWII gull-winged F4U Corsair.

Each Scout got a turn to fly the museum’s virtual reality flight simulator.

  For close-up looks at two of our historical aircraft, docents Kyle Purcell and David Juarez Bilow opened the IL-14 Crate, a Soviet designed airliner, while Gary Casassa popped the canopy on the A-7 Corsair II.   Our thanks go out to pilots Paul Heck, Steve Hogle, and Kevin Quirk who had their planes ready to go before the weather cancellation.  Art and the FAA Air Controllers provided each scout the opportunity to visit and observe the KSTS control tower operations during the IFR conditions, including walks in the rain to and from the control tower.   Art’s last lesson of the day included live monitoring of the KSTS Airport Terminal Information System (ATIS) while reviewing the International Phonetic Alphabet for aviation from Alpha to Zulu in the international language of aviation.  Upon completion of the day’s activities, each scout earned their Aviation Merit Badge.

Scouts are always offered a local flight with a volunteer pilot at the conclusion of the class. There were no flights this October because of the weather, but any Scout who missed out in October can get his or her flight at the January or May Aviation Merit Badge Class.

Signups for the January 18th, 2020, Merit Badge Class have already started and the early registrations look like a probable full house.  Scouts not flying on October, 19th will be invited to return to PCAM and take to the sky during the January 18th or May 16th Merit Badge Classes.


There’s always something great going on at the Pacific Coast Air Museum. We have Open Cockpit weekends once a month,  special events throughout the year, and regular hot dog lunches. We host school field trips, special group tours, birthday parties, and family get-togethers, all among our collection of historic aircraft and educational exhibits.