MCAS KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii --
U.S. Marines from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268 joined forces with the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum's "Flight School" program on June 27 and July 11, 2023, hosting a week-long aviation-focused summer camp for students in grades 6-8. This collaboration marked the first-ever partnership between VMM-268 and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum's education department.
The summer camp immersed students in the world of aviation, emphasizing the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math disciplines that underpin the industry. During their visit to VMM-268, the students assumed the role of simulated MV-22B Osprey pilots, gaining hands-on experience in virtual flying. They familiarized themselves with the intricate design of the MV-22 and engaged in conversations with Marine Corps pilots, air crew members, and maintainers.
VMM-268 personnel shared their expertise and insights with the students, providing a comprehensive overview of aviation careers, including aircraft maintenance and piloting. They also offered students the opportunity to explore Marine Corps Aviation Training resources and participate in additional hands-on training.
The collaboration between VMM-268 and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum demonstrated a shared commitment to nurturing enthusiasm for aviation among young learners. Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William "Spin" Spincola, senior manager of education programs for the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, emphasized the impact of the partnership in building confidence and inspiring future aviation professionals.
“Our summer camp gives the students an academic foundation for aviation and a small taste of what it’s like to be a pilot, maintainer, or mechanic...” Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. William "Spin" Spincola, senior manager of education programs for the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
"Each one of those career paths are extremely important and we want to help build confidence in the students so that they can envision themselves pursing an aviation career one day" said Spincola.
Capt. Shea Baker, an MV-22B Osprey pilot with VMM-268, highlighted the importance of educating and inspiring young minds, reaffirming the squadron's dedication to community engagement and education.
“This is a unique opportunity to share more about Marine aviation. VMM-268 will always take advantage of every opportunity to teach students about aviation. The Red Dragons love supporting the community and the country,” said Baker.
Photo by Cpl. Christian Tofteroo
U.S. Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 268, Marine Aircraft Group 24, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, converse with Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum "Flight School" summer camp students at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, July 11, 2023. VMM-268 partnered with the summer camp to introduce middle school students to the aviation career field and enhance community relations.
Despite VMM-268's demanding real-world missions, the squadron recognizes the importance of collaborating with the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum to support the community and inspire the next generation. Spincola expressed gratitude for VMM-268's involvement, recognizing the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity it provided for the students.
“We know that the Red Dragons are busy preparing for real world missions, and we are so appreciative that they have taken the time to let us come and see the squadron. It really is a once in a lifetime opportunity for some of our students,” Spincola added.
The "Flight School" program offered students rare career exploration and personal growth opportunities; it afforded them with hands-on experiences, which demonstrated the practical application of classroom knowledge; it gave them the chance to interact with Marine Corps aviation professionals, who hope to inspire students to consider Marine aviation as a future path. It also accomplished the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum's mission of promoting aviation education and STEM learning.
Through their collaborative efforts, VMM-268 and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum enhanced public understanding and appreciation for the Marine Corps' aviation capabilities and fostered a deeper connection between the Marine Corps and the community it serves.