MESA, Ariz. - Dozens of families had their first experience in the cockpit of a historic fighter jet at the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa.
"I’ll show you what the number one plane in the museum is," laughed Bobbie Carleton, Airbase Arizona Flying Museum Director, behind a sea of impressive historic aircraft.
She gestures toward a beloved kids' peddle plane - a bright sign for what's ahead.
"I think in a lot of ways that’s how people get interested.," Carleton said. "There’s something that inspires them when they’re a kid. I mean when I was a kid, I heard stories of Amelia Earhart, for example."
For years, there has been talks of a massive pilot shortage nationwide. Analysts have said the pandemic only added to the problem as older pilots retired.
One could never tell with all of the aspiring pilots at the museum.
"Young people want to be a part of that," Carleton said.
On Saturday, the museum had a family day with scavenger hunts and discounted prices to bring the young at heart in - and maybe show kids what life as a pilot can bring.
"Being in 7th, 8th, 9th grade...I think that’s a critical time for a kid growing up, because they’re really forming a pretty important impression of where they want to go," said the museum director.
Grady Runion is the perfect example of a future pilot. His dad, his grandpa, his uncle - all in the Air Force.
"Yea, I want to go into the Navy [to be a] fighter pilot," Runion said.
And it can be days like these that can leave an impression and lead to a career.
"I don’t think that would be much of a job, just more having fun," Runion laughed.
The museum will continue to have family days all summer long.
Visit the museum: https://www.azcaf.org/
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