For many adults, going to the airport has become as nearly as commonplace as a trip to the mall.
But for second-graders, watching planes take off and land is "awesome" (with at least three exclamation marks).Through their unrestrained gasps and squeals of excitement and their questions of wonderment - "How do the planes fly when they are so heavy?" - 90 second-grade students from Stansbury Elementary School, 3050 S. 27th West, taught their teachers a lesson about flying.
Physics aside, it is amazing that a 220,000-pound Boeing 727 can fly.
Explaining how an airplane flies takes on new dimension when the students leave the classroom and stand on the airport runway. They hear the roar of the engine. They feel the vibration of the plane's movement on the pavement. And they watch, with mouths gaping, as the planes leave the earth and within minutes become mere spots in the sky.
The students visited Salt Lake International for a newly created tour program designed to stir children's interests in in air industry careers and to acquaint them with airport safety.
Through participation and fun, tour guide Ann Bero instructs the children on serious matters of safety.
"If you become lost at the airport, what should you do?" she asks.
She shows them the white telephones on the airport walls and tells them to pick the phone up, dial zero and ask for help. "Try not to get excited and scared. Don't leave the airport. Don't talk to strangers," she coaches.
The children board a bus, travel past the security post onto the runway and unload at the Crash/Fire/Rescue Station.
Firefighter Jay Eardley stands by a gigantic "crash truck" used to put out fires on aircraft that crash or have mechanical difficulties. The children then stand back with a healthy respect for the mean-looking machine as Eardley drives the vehicle onto the runway and demonstrates its 1,500-gallon-capacity pumps.
One student comments that it would be fun in the hot summer months to run through these hoses, but "it might hurt."
Their next stop was the K-9 Explosive Detection Team to watch specially trained Belgium Malinios dogs sniff for potential bombs. When the K-9 officer explains that a bomblike object has been hidden inside somewhere within the vicinity and the dogs will try to find it, a dozen children scurry to the bus for shelter.
When the children are convinced that it is not a bomb that could explode but a can of smokeless powder, typically found in explosives, they leave the bus to observe the dogs.
After sniffing around and pointing to the hidden "explosive", the dog is rewarded with a piece of dog candy. These dogs are used to sniff out suspicious luggage.
At the tour's conclusion, the students receive their plastic wings and a coloring book.
They applaud their teacher and put in their request for their next visit to the airport - a free plane trip to Disneyland.
Those interested in scheduling a tour can call 575-2930.