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NASA - National Aviation Day Highlights the Future of Flight
August 19, 2008

[image-51] [image-78] KITTY HAWK, N.C. -- In the Visitors' Center, author and historian Tom Crouch stood in front of a replica of the Wright Brothers original plane and told an assembly the story of the beginning of manned flight.

On a sidewalk about 300 yards away, National Park Ranger Deborah Hoffbeck stood in front of a stone monument to the takeoff of each of the Wrights' first four flights. She, too, talked of Dec. 17, 1903.

In the Pavilion Theater, an excited Vicki Crisp stood alone in front of a stage and told the rest of the story Tuesday, National Aviation Day at the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Her message, supported by multimedia, was not of the past, or even the present. It was about the future of flight and NASA’s role in it.

It was exactly the message you would expect from Langley's director of aeronautics. Its delivery was cutting edge, and its target was anyone who might become part of, and affected by, NASA's future.

"Make sure you pay attention to the end, kids, because I want you to see how you're going to be getting to school one day … or your kids … or your grandkids," Crisp warned, and then the program went into movie mode.

The segment of video showed any number of NASA accomplishments and ideas, then finished with a flourish, with a youngster walking down a sidewalk while an airplane goes past on the street.

"Oh wow," murmured a young woman in the audience to her two children. "That's cool."

It was supposed to be.

"I was really thinking about 'Gen Y' " when putting together the presentation, said Crisp, who described herself as being born "at the tail end of your baby boomers.

"But I have two daughters (ages 26 and 23) who are Gen Y. They're exposed to so many kinds of media."

One of the ideas Tuesday was to use as many as possible. There was Power Point, certainly, but it was limited to a few slides about the role of NASA in aeronautical development. There were a couple of movie clips.

At its beginning was a slide congratulating Michael Phelps for swimming to eight Olympic gold medals in a suit that NASA helped develop.

At its end, there was a clip with a dancing robot.

But there was no mixing the message. It was for the kids --- and to a lesser extent, their parents -- to let them know that aeronautics was alive and kicking at NASA and at Langley.

"I want them excited about aeronautics, to be thinking about aeronautics for their future," Crisp said after the 15 minute presentation.

"Getting them interested in space is easy."

Aeronautics is a tougher sell.

"I wanted them to walk away with, 'Oh, that’s what’s possible,' " Crisp said. "And I wanted them to remember, 'Oh, and NASA's doing that.' "

It was even about what NASA isn't doing, but with a corollary.

"Is NASA looking at the long line at check-in (at the airport)?" Crisp poses the question, then answers, "No, but …"

It's an introduction for Next-Gen air travel, with optimizing airplane taxi times and better air control to allow more planes aloft, maximizing capacity and, perhaps, helping move people along in the check-in line.

"Can we fix the weather? No, but …"

And there follows a commercial for NASA aeronautics' work with airplanes and the elements, and of a future with fewer weather delays.

"I wanted them to remember, 'Oh, NASA's doing that,' " Crisp said. "I wanted them to think, 'NASA's making a change.' It could be that they're expecting it tomorrow, and that's a little quick, but I wanted them to connect where they are today and where we are today."

And where they can be tomorrow, even as they walked away to see Gail Langevin and Eileen Spillane at a NASA Langley exhibit designed to enforce the message to the children.

And even as they walked away to tour the grounds where the Wright Brothers first flew 105 years ago.

Jim Hodges
NASA Langley Research Center

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Chad Sindaco a teacher from Great Valley Middle School in Malvera, Pa. with his youngest daughter Ava, during the Aviation Day festivities.
Chad Sindaco a teacher from Great Valley Middle School in Malvera, Pa. with his youngest daughter Ava, during the Aviation Day festivities.
Image Credit: 
NASA / Sean Smith
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Vicki Crisp, director of Aeronautics Research for NASA's Langley Research Center presenting, "NASA and the Future of Aviation in the Centennial Pavilion Auditorium."
Vicki Crisp, director of Aeronautics Research for NASA's Langley Research Center presenting, "NASA and the Future of Aviation in the Centennial Pavilion Auditorium."
Image Credit: 
NASA / Sean Smith
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Page Last Updated: August 23rd, 2013
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