Up, Up & Away-Airport Day
Up, Up & Away-Airport Day
Betsy Bailey

One of the highlights of being in the fifth grade at Southwest Middle School is the annual Airport Day. Students talk about this experience for years after they have the opportunity to participate. Not only do our students get to experience being in the air, but they also learn about many types of transportation from first responders and local businesses. The SWMS teachers ensure this activity envelops all aspects of the curriculum which include science, math, history of transportation, and even literacy through the essay students write following their experiences. Each year, First Community Bank awards Airport Day essay winners with a $250 scholarship. The following is Miley Henton’s award-winning essay that describes her fantastic day at the Searcy Municipal Airport.

First Flight

By Miley Henton

“Wow!” I read over the packet a second time.  “We get to fly?” I had heard from my friends in previous years that Southwest Middle School’s fifth graders would get to go to the airport and ride in a plane, but I had thought they were just blowing smoke.  When I got home that afternoon, I immediately showed my parents the forms.  They agreed almost right away.   My dad also suggested that I bring my camera.  I brought back the forms, and a few days later, we were off!

 I sat and talked with my friends on the bus.  A few minutes later we pulled into the parking lot and everyone piled off.  The airport was smaller than I had anticipated, but it was still really cool.  An airport employee gave us instructions, and then we were allowed to go explore the vehicles that were parked there.  I climbed inside of the ambulance and a man stuck my finger inside a machine that counted my heartbeat.  I climbed into the fire truck and then (after a BIG jump) I pulled myself into the driver’s seat of a Walmart eighteen-wheeler.  There were a lot of buttons, and I didn’t even know what most of them did! After I climbed out of the truck, I went over to sit with my friends Emma and Analiz in the trunk of the sheriff's SUV.  A few minutes later, our teachers called us over to show us an airplane that we were allowed to climb into and pretend to fly.  After that, we went over to a hang glider.  We strapped ourselves into it one at a time and we swung in it.

 After that, it was time for lunch!  I quickly ate my lunch and then I stood up to get some pictures with my camera.  I got some really good pictures!   When we all finished lunch, our teachers called us over to line up near the runway.  I was so excited to finally be flying!  I strapped myself into the little plane with Emma and Analiz.  The pilot told us as we climbed in that he would never do anything to scare us and that if he did it would probably scare him more than it would scare us.  (He was joking.  I think.)  After we were all strapped in, the pilot started up the engine.  It was really loud!  The plane zoomed down the runway and we were about to take off when I heard a clang!  I thought that the plane had hit a rock, but then I heard Emma gasp.  

“My door isn’t closed,” she yelped.  The pilot slowed down to let us grab the door, and together we shut and locked it.  “Whew,” I said.  “That was an adventure.”

 A few seconds later, we were up in the air!  It was amazing! We were really high up!  At first, all I could see was the airport, the aquatics center, the soccer fields, and a bunch of farmland, but a few minutes later we were flying over Race Street and the rest of town.   We saw the water treatment plant, Harding University, Walmart, Kroger, and JCPenney’s.   I could see the Bison stadium, the hospital, even my neighborhood! We even saw Southwest Middle School!  I could literally see all of Searcy!  I got a lot of photos.  

 Before I knew it, we had touched back down at the airport.  We lined up to go back to school.  I was sad to leave, but I had had a lot of fun, and I got a lot of good pictures!  Before we left, I got one last selfie with my friends.  We all piled in: Emma, Analiz, Lexie, Meredith, Jordyn, and me. “Smile!” I said.


 Searcy School District congratulates essay winner Miley Henton, first runner up Samuel Stubbs, and second runner up Sophie Sutterfield-Qualls. We would like to thank Robbie and Andrea Hill for their many years of coordinating this wonderful educational experience as well as the many pilots and community volunteers who donate their time and expertise to engage young people. We are grateful to First Community Bank for the donation of lunch and the investment of post high school education for our students.

Searcy School District will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday November 22-25. School will resume on Monday, November 27th. We wish our students, staff, and their families a wonderful holiday spent with loved ones.