July 12, 2006
Republic Air Plays Host To Camp Helen Keller
By Deborah Rodriguez-Samuelson
Public Relations Associate
Helen Keller Services for the Blind
718-522-2122 x 204
Joseph Gonzalez had never been in an airplane, much less touched one before today. As he sat in the cockpit of a Piper Warrior, hands on the steering wheel, he summed up the experience very succinctly: “I want to stay here forever.”
Joseph was part of the first group of children from Camp Helen Keller this summer to take part in a one of a kind program. Helen Keller Services for the Blind and Farmingdale State University of New York teamed up to provide this summer’s campers with something special – a lesson on aviation. Louis A. Scala, Associate Professor of Aviation for Farmingdale State, has donated his time to teach the children how planes work – from building a model to a field trip at Republic Air for a truly unique hands on experience.
Prof. Lou, as the children call him, teaches piloting and aviation at the same campus site Helen Keller Services for the Blind uses for its summer camp program. Last year he approached the director of the program, Bill Dale, and asked him if he could participate in the camp in some way. Together the aviation program was conceived and the children have taken airplanes – and Prof. Lou – to heart. No where was this more evident than in the barrage of questions Prof. Scala received (including why didn’t the plane have windshield wipers) when the children were examining the airplane up close. “Lack of sight does not take away childhood enthusiasm, as these children have taught me,” said Prof. Scala. (By the way – airplanes like the Piper don’t have windshield wipers because the propeller blows the rain off.)
Created in 1953, Camp Helen Keller is a six-week day camp for blind or visually impaired children ages 4 to 15 and is located on the spacious campus of Farmingdale State – a coeducational, public college with more than 6,400 students pursuing degrees in one of 30 programs.