Open Letter to City Councils Everywhere

To City Councils everywhere:

Kids excell with aviation and its loud noise: the louder and lower the better. Ingore the complainers, because our youth are inspired by the planes they see. Let the windows rattle, and just watch the boys turn their heads to see. Forget about the perfect quiet neighborhood, because we’re losing a whole generation of kids who are inside, unsupervised and catatonic with video games all day. I’m a 4th grade teacher in Hawthorne, CA, right under the traffic pattern for Hawthorne airport, and I can attest: loud and low is good for our youth, who otherwise are so lost. The kids look up; they tell me daily about the latest air traffic, (“It was fast and loud…silver with army marks…Saturday…my dad loves planes too!” and “We saw that mustang again…” and “It had two wings and was yellow and loud…”

When the B-17 and B-24 flew low over our school last spring, my kids were jumping up and down. The windows shook and the kids were thrilled. Later, a mustang entered the pattern and I took the entire class outside (again) to see. Many kids said, “I’m gonna be a pilot…” right then and there. We went back to class and they dove into their history books, reading about WW2. I tell you, it works!

One week, the boys (10 years old) were all excited and telling me that the stealth fighter had flown over. I said, “Okay…. let’s get the book out and look at the models.” I pulled out my models (the classroom is chock-full of them). They were convinced it was the stealth fighter, even describing the differences between the vertical stabs of the f-14, f-18. So I called the Hawthorne tower to confirm, and “Yes, we had a low fly-by of the Stealth Fighter…”. These inner-city kids impressed me with their observation skills.

My challenge: For every noise complaint, I can show you 30 youths and their parents who look to the sky for inspiration, and eagerly wait for the next plane to fly over. This is the silent majority. Additionally, I can point to 10 minority youths in the Hawthorne area, who started flying and bettered their lives recently (one is now a captain with Southwest!) because they lived near a flight path.

Want to help kids excell, keep youth out of trouble? Give them loud airplanes, down low and up close. Keep your airport open; have an airshow and invite an F18 to demo; start an aviation Explorer or Civil Air Patrol Cadet program. Sponsor model aviation. Then watch the young grow better. As my 4th graders say, “Planes are cool!”

Robert Gregory,
4th Grade Teacher, Williams Elementary School,
Hawthorne CA

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your sharing your expereinces with us. How about the rest of you out there? Please send in your experiences/ideas to

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