Niwot’s Caleb Bishop started flying tiny remote controlled drones when he was tiny himself, and as he’s grown, so has his passion for aircraft and avionics. Now a top student in St. Vrain’s aeronautics program at the Innovation Center, Bishop has proved adept not only at piloting complex unmanned machines, but in building and fabricating them as well.
The rising senior will get a chance to hone his skills even further, after he was awarded a scholarship to attend the Academy of Model Aeronautics’ prestigious Camp AMA, a week-long program held at the 1,900-acre International Aeromodeling Center in Muncie, IN.
“Caleb is a leader, and when you work with kids like I have for all these years, you see it right off the bat, which one is the leader,” said local AMA Vice President Rick McCaskill before presenting Bishop’s award at AeroFest, a community open flight event on June 1. McCaskill serves as a technology mentor for SVVSD, in both aeronautics and robotics, and has worked closely with Bishop at the Innovation Center. “Plus he’s got an extremely high interest in aviation, both flying and designing, so he was a great candidate for this award.”
Bishop has been involved in the Innovation Center’s aeronautics program for three years, and will be taking the three planes he designed and fabricated with him to Muncie. He said it was an honor to be selected for the scholarship, and he is looking forward to making the trip.
“I’m very, very excited,” he said of the upcoming program, which runs from June 9-15. “Now I get to go out to Muncie and learn to fly anything I want to learn how to fly.”
First on his list: helicopters. Bishop was involved in a mishap at AeroFest that left one of the model helicopters in pieces and he hopes to learn more about what went wrong.
“I’ve never flown a helicopter before. I also want to get better at acrobatics with regular planes.”
He’ll definitely get a chance to do just that in Muncie. While there, Bishop and 80 other campers will be immersed in the world of RC aircraft from 8 a.m. until sundown, learning about aviation science and technology, and participating in competitions and demonstrations. They will also receive flying instruction from several world-class RC pilots.
“Caleb’s a good flyer now, but when he gets out of this week-long course, he’ll be a pro,” McCaskill said. “It’s not to teach kids how to fly, it’s to make them experts.”