It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No wait, it’s Sci-Tech campers! Aviation chugim are some of our most popular electives here at Sci-Tech. Our campers love flying, so much so that one chug wasn’t enough! This year, we have three different aviation options: Drones, Rocketry, and Flight Simulation. All of them are taught by our Rosh Mislachat, Oran, who came all the way from Israel for two years in a row to share his passion for flight with Sci-Tech campers! 
In rocketry, campers learn about the physics of flight and rockets, and then put that knowledge into action! By the end of the week, our campers have designed and decorated model rockets and watched them get launched into the sky. This past week, when the rocketry chugim went to retrieve their launched rockets, a new record was set: all of them came back wholly intact! Now that’s a shehechyanu moment!
In the drone flying chug, campers explore flight in a different way. They learn how drones have been used throughout history, and
then learn how to fly one themselves. There are challenges for every level of drone flying expertise, starting with going to one end of the field and back, to landing a ball that is hung from the drone by a string in a small cup positioned on the ground.

While it’s obvious that these two aviation chugim rise above the rest, this year we added even more: a flight simulator! In the flight simulation chug, campers learn how to fly a plane using an actual flight simulator. Campers get a feel for what its like to fly an aircraft and by the end, our campers leave with the knowledge of how to operate a real-life airplane! They love learning about the controls. The location the simulator flies over can be customized, and when the campers realize they are flying over a virtual version of Sci-Tech their faces light up, especially when they get the chance to land on the Main Lawn! 
In our aviation chugim, our campers get to live out their dreams of flying through the sky. One camper, Sam, has felt so impacted that he has taken an aviation chug every single week he has been at camp for the last five years. He was thrilled to learn about the addition of the flight simulator. Sam has a passion for flying and wants to be a pilot when he’s older. He is currently in flight school, and he takes the aviation chug every chance he gets because he believes that the practice he is getting with the flight simulator will help him be a better pilot. This chug gets him closer to achieving his dream of one day flying his own real-life plane!
Our new flight simulator chug is special not only because it impacts how campers think about their future, but because of where this flight simulator has been in the past. The flight simulator chug would not have been possible without the very generous donation of Rabbi Aaron Panken’s personal flight simulator from the Messinger-Panken family. In his life, Rabbi Aaron Panken was the president of the Hebrew Union College, as well as an avid pilot. He even visited Sci-Tech in its pioneer years and shared his love of flight and aviation with the campers during a special aviation lesson!
We are so happy and thankful that we are able to pass on that love of flight and engineering here at Sci-Tech. We are forever grateful to the Messinger-Panken family who saw how Rabbi Panken’s legacy could live on through this community. He is a shining example of someone who wholly loved Judaism as much as he wholly loved STEM, and will forever be a role-model for our future engineers and pilots.