Teen Volunteers Show Passion for Planes - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Teen Volunteers Show Passion for Planes

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Thousands of people each year visit Fargo's Air Museum on the city's north side.
Boasting a terrific collection of vintage airplanes -- all of which still fly -- it's a unique tourist attraction, but what really helps to keep interest sky-high are the volunteers, including three committed teenagers.

That's because the key to a successful museum goes beyond preservation; it includes education. It's not just what people see, it's about creating memories that can lead to future visitors... and teenage volunteers Sam, Vander, and Damien are ready, willing, and able to clue visitors in on all that the museum has to offer.

Their beginnings at the museum are linked in part to their families -- Sam Kennedy's grandfather is a pilot and flies a crop duster out of Hawley, Minnesota -- but the real underlying constant with all of the teenage volunteers is that what started as an interest in the Air Museum has grown into a full-blown passion. All three are eager to share their excitement and enthusiasm.

Even when they're not at the museum, they're studying with a desire to know everything there is to know about the airplanes.

Helping to fuel their desire is 92-year-old Stew Bass, a World War Two veteran who flew a torpedo bomber in the Pacific Theater. "They're like an encyclopedia," Bass says with admiration. "They know so much more about the planes."

The teenagers consider Stew far more than a fellow volunteer: he's their friend and a mentor.

"Great guy!" says Sam. "He helped me out on my first day... he gave me a tour."

"It's kinda not the same tour without Stew helping with the Avenger," Vander admits.

"They amaze me, I tell you," Stew replies, "and they eat it up, and they live it... And they're good kids."

Between the young and "not-so-young" volunteers, the learning for Air Museum visitors begins moments after walking in the door.

If those volunteers have anything to say about it, their days at the museum will go on for a long time, and while they may take a break from volunteering at the Air Museum in the years to come, all three tell me that aviation is part of their education and career plans.

In fact, Damien Geller -- at 16, the oldest of the three -- is going to be learning to fly soon, with the cost paid for by Air Museum board member donations, a scholarship, and help from the Fargo Jet Center.


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