Their mission, which they excitedly accepted, was to learn as much as possible about aviation. On a sunny summer morning, nearly 30 Girl Scouts from San Diego marched aboard the USS Midway Museum to take on the challenge of Operation Wing Scout.

“Operation Wing Scout is a youth development program born from the longstanding partnership between Southwest Airlines and Midway, with collaboration from Girl Scouts of San Diego and the Latina empowerment program, MANA de San Diego,” said Tina Chin, Midway’s director of education. “The main goal of the program is far more nuanced than a simple introduction to aviation. The purpose is to show those in attendance, through evidence-based research and real-world examples, that there is nothing they cannot accomplish if they dream big and work hard.”

During the day-long program, the Girl Scouts received a crash course in aviation history – from the humble kite flying beginnings in ancient China to modern space travel today – and how women are a critical component to the field. The scouts experienced a practical flying lesson in the simulators of Midway’s Flight Academy each piloting a Cessna 172 Skyhawk over New York City. 

After landing their simulator flights, the scouts had the opportunity to discuss their aviation experience with representatives from Southwest Airlines, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, and Midway’s education volunteer, Lindsey Weightman.

Lindsey currently serves as an aviation ordnanceman with a Navy helicopter squadron at Naval Air Station North Island. Her stories about being a woman in charge and working with dangerous equipment left each scout with an excited gleam in their eyes.

The power of endless curiosity and possibility was a recurring theme throughout the day for the scouts that resulted in a memorable moment that perfectly captured the goal of the program.

Girl Scouts piloting Cessnas in Midway’s Flight Academy simulators.

“During the history crash course, scouts were quite taken with the story of one of the first manned flights, which was an 18th century hot air balloon ride that had the unique passengers of a duck, sheep, and rooster,” said Tina. “The scouts developed theories on why those specific animals were chosen. But what truly caught their attention was why the test even happened in the first place. One scout asked, ‘how did those people even know what to do and how did they know that space existed to explore it?’ The room quieted for a moment then another scout chimed in saying ‘haven’t you ever been curious?”

After an afternoon tour of the flight deck, the scouts received their certificates and a badges for their hard work.

“Operation Wing Scout is more than just a program that excites these young scouts about aviation,” said Tina. “It encourages them to reach for the stars.”

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