Our first objective is to foster mutually supportive educational activities between airport users and students with the hope more youngsters will be exposed to — and ultimately participate in — aviation activities, either recreationally or professionally. SAF believes everyone benefits when we are able to guide young people to an appreciation of the excitement of flying and the value of education in the realization of their dreams of flight.

Currently SAF has three ongoing programs:  Youth Aviation Adventure (YAA), Build-a-Plane, and scholarships.  Due to scheduling issues, the 6th grade program that was held every May for many years and reached 400 students each year, is being redone in 2019. New program will reach more students of varying ages.

 Youth Aviation Adventure (YAA)

This program is conducted in cooperation with Ohio State University and endorsed by the FAA. It is designed for youth interested in advancing understanding of the joys of aviation. The program consists of a full day event in the fall whereby youth between 12 and 18 visit 8-1O learning stations to better understand about the different facets of aviation. The YAA program provides curriculum, shirts, signs and more to ensure the program is successful.


Sports Aviation Foundation allied with the Build-A-Plane Program in 2015 to introduce youngsters to aviation by actually building an aircraft.  Through the generous participation of local groups and individuals, a kit was acquired and a team recruited to teach high-school youngsters how to assemble that kit.  Though there have been significant donations, many components are still needed. Participants in the program cut aluminum sheets, drive rivets, and generally do all aspects of the plane construction and assembly. Build-a-Plane works most Saturday mornings throughout the year. Build a Plane

Scholarship Programs

Sports Aviation Foundation expanded its vision of supporting the local aviation community in 2019 with a scholarship program for people training to become aviation mechanics.  We think this responds to an industry need for more qualified aviation maintenance personnel, and thus is a good fit with our mission.  Since A & P certification is such a long and involved undertaking, our initial effort has been to support local apprentice mechanics in review course and FAA certification exam costs.  Our first candidate received a scholarship for examinations in 2019. The second scholarship student will take review courses and the certification exams when the economy opens up in 2020.  Fundraising is ongoing.

Periodically SAF has also supported scholarships for other aviation endeavors through its relationship with the Minden Soaring Club.

Minden Soaring Club

Youth Education Days

(replacement of 6th Grade Aviation Days)

Currently SAF is developing a new program, similar to the ones run for the 6th graders. It will be scheduled during the summer and certain Saturdays and target all ages.  We hope to involve Douglas County Parks and Recreation.

6th Grade Aviation Education Days at Minden Tahoe Airport – May 4, 5, 11,12 – 2016

Over 400 6 th grade students and teachers from Pau Wa Lu and Carson Valley Middle School visited the Minden Tahoe Airport for two hours over four mornings in May. The students were divided into groups of 12-15 as they got off the buses and then visited seven to eight education centers – Civil Air Patrol, Instruments and Navigation, Airport Operations, Careers, Glider, Weather, Experiments, and Helicopter. Most of the program was interactive and held on the ramp in front of the MTA office building, though threatening thunderstorms one morning caused some programs to move inside. Many had never been to the airport or seen small planes.

Careflight and National Division of Forestry firefighting helicopters visited two mornings. The students were thrilled to be able to climb into these helicopters as well as the Civil Air Patrol plane. Jack Hempel, Mark Robinson, Dale Brown, and Ted Sarbin gave a brief history of CAP and opportunities available to the students. Members of the Ninety-Nine’s Inc, International Organization of Women Pilots lead the hands-on experiments which included Alka-Seltzer rockets and a water demonstration of buoyancy and Archimedes principal. Don Dixon, Jeff Whitaker, and Jim Nunalee (some of our Build-A- Plane volunteers) lead the instruments/navigation section and passed around actual instruments from planes. Chris Johnson helped the students understand how pilots taxi and navigate airports and got the students taxiing the taxi line. Bobbi Thompson, Sandy Goetz, and Jennifer Kuclock discussed a variety of aviation related careers and experience and education requirements. Laurie Harden Ricardi, Elizabeth Tatersill, and Karol Hines went over the forces of flight, the flight axes, and demonstrated how different parts of a glider worked. Mike Moore and Reba Coombs taught different weather conditions prevalent in the Carson Valley and how they contribute MTA being a world renowned soaring site.

It was an action packed time.

Linda Mae Draper and Kathy Bradford coordinated the event. 43 volunteers helped out and contributed almost 400 volunteer hours to make the program a success.

Students learn aviation from experts.

YAA 2015 Laurie Harden

Minden-Tahoe Airport was a happening place on May 19-21 when Douglas County’s sixth-grade students had the opportunity to visit and learn about the local airport and various areas of aviation.

Sponsored by the Sports Aviation Foundation and the Douglas County School District, 377 enthusiastic young scholars were escorted by volunteers through nine aviation education modules relating to their sixth-grade science curriculum. Volunteer presenters were experienced, knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

Helicopter demonstrations were sponsored by the Nevada Army Air Guard Lakota and the Care Flight helicopters and crews. Several of the helicopter pilots and crews were from Carson Valley. The students learned about career opportunities available right here at home for ambitious young people.

A member of the Nevada Army Air Guard Lakota speaks to students about the type of helicopter he flies.

YAA 2015 Army Guard Helo

Students learn about Careflight during their visit to the Minden-Tahoe Airport.

YAA 2015 Care Flight

Groups visited the Civil Air Patrol, learning about cadet opportunities, the atmosphere of U.S. Air Force military life, and how to “preflight” an airplane.

The 99s, International Organization of Women Pilots performed experiments pertaining to aviation, with hands-on student participation.

SoaringNV ardently explained about gliders, soaring and related opportunities in our area. Weather was next.

Here students learned about local world record flights, and why Minden is known as one of the world’s best soaring sites.

Aircraft instruments and panels were described. Everyone was able to handle instruments that came out of an actual airplane. Different aspects of airport operations, including our Automated Weather Observation System, were actively demonstrated by the airport’s professional operations manager.

The airport manager and a knowledgeable volunteer discussed aviation career opportunities and the Young Eagles Program.

This successful airport event was applauded by teachers as well as the volunteers. Comments were, “great organization- easy to follow and understand the rotations,” and “My students were treated to informative presentations on aviation by caring and knowledgeable volunteers.”

Over 40 volunteers participated and expressed that they learned a lot themselves.

“Wonderful job overall,” commented one teacher.

Successful events such as this one, exemplify the value and importance of the Minden-Tahoe Airport in our Community.  See the original article in the Record-Courier. And more photos in the Photo Gallery.

Some photos from the 2014 Youth Aviation Adventure Program