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101st Combat Aviation Brigade Air scouts use aviation to teach about the importance of math

Written by Sgt. Duncan Brennan
101st Combat Aviation Brigade

Wings of DestinyFort Campbell KY, 101st Airborne Division

Fort Campbell, KY – Pilots from 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), hosted sixth-grade students from Kenwood Middle School for a demonstration of how math is relevant to aviation, here, October 8th, 2014.

The field trip was part of Kenwood’s make math meaningful field trip. The students visited other professions where math was integral to daily business.

Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frank Laudano, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), responds to raised hands from visiting students, here, Oct. 8, 2014. The field trip by Kenwood Middle School sixth-graders was part of a broader field trip to make mathematics meaningful outside of the classroom. (Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB Public Affairs)
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frank Laudano, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), responds to raised hands from visiting students, here, Oct. 8, 2014. The field trip by Kenwood Middle School sixth-graders was part of a broader field trip to make mathematics meaningful outside of the classroom. (Sgt. Duncan Brennan, 101st CAB Public Affairs)

With technology playing an ever more-prominent role in our lives, it is easy to forget the basics of arithmetic why algebra is always looking for x. In aviation, those basic skills get utilized every day. The Soldiers and leaders of 2-17 CAV are enthusiastic about sharing what they use math for on a daily basis.

“I believe in the importance of engaging with our youth about science technology engineering and math,” said Lt. Col. Jack Murphy, commander, 2-17 CAV. “Math is an integral part of technology and technology is everywhere. To truly be proficient at utilizing the technology around us, in our case piloting the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter, we have to be able to rely on those math skills that we learned in grade school. There are many applications of those skills every day we go out and fly.”

Engaging students and holding their attention are two different things. With the Kiowa Warrior helicopters as a back drop, pilots led the Kenwood students trough some practical exercises.

“They wanted examples of how we use math in our career fields,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frank Laudano, OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter pilot, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2-17 CAV. “In aviation, there’s plenty of calculations that have to be made. We decided it would be easy to show them how we calculate fuel consumption and takeoff weight. From what I can tell, the groups that I had were very attentive and I think we reached them pretty well.”

In piloting, calculating how much fuel you have left and how far you can get on that fuel can have deadly outcomes if you do the arithmetic wrong. With dire consequences in the realm of possibility, a good knowledge of basic math and is useful.

“You need to have a strong foundation in basic math. Addition, multiplication, division, algebra are all important,” said Laudano. “You have to be able to do it all in your head and on the fly. We’re constantly trying to find ‘x’ and it’s not always circling x on your ditto sheet, it’s pretty important when you’re flying. It doesn’t always come down to it, but not being able to do the computations can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.”

Math is the basis of a lot of what goes on in aviation. The pilots that were teaching the relevance of math outside the classroom were talking to the people that could one day step into their shoes.

“The students in middle and high school are our future,” said Murphy. “We have a responsibility to assist our communities prepare the next generation to be able to step up and continue the legacies that we will leave behind. Math is without a doubt going to be a part of that.”

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