Flight program comes to Schroon Lake

SCHROON LAKE - If missionaries are to carrying on their work in some of the world's most remote regions, they need to utilize modern technology.

That's why the Schroon airport became a "jungle" recently.

"Today, missionaries often fly into remote jungles and other places to deliver their message," explained Paul Bubar of Word of Life. "We're fortunate to have some 'jungle' pilots visiting."

Five of those pilots spent a week exposing teens from Word of Life Island to flight at the local airport through the Brigade Air program.

"Today most mission aviation organizations are diligently seeking candidates to fill positions as trained pilots, mechanics and other support personnel providing air service for many missionaries who need it," said Bruce Wolff, Brigade Air director.

The Schroon program included five pilot/instructors and 11 teens ages 13-18 flying Piper Cherokee 140 planes.

The pilots and would-be pilots spent the week flying around the Adirondacks. They practiced take-offs and landings by flying from Schroon to Glens Falls and back.

Luke VanderWiele, a Schroon Lake native, was one of the pilot/instructors.

"The idea is to give kids a chance to get a feel for aviation before they decide to drop a ton of money into flight lessons and things," VanderWiele said. "It's a good program. We had a lot of fun."

VanderWiele, a 2006 Schroon Lake Central School graduate, has long been fascinated with aviation. He was a licensed pilot while in high school and this spring graduated from Liberty University's School of Aeronautics.

Home for the summer, VanderWiele will return to Liberty this fall to teach flying while he looks for a position with a commercial airline.

The Schroon Lake lessons were valuable to all - instructors and campers.

"It was a great teaching experience for me," VanderWiele said.

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