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Boy Scouts Earn Aviation Merit Badge With Hands-On Airport Experience

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - It takes months, or even years for pilots to learn to fly. Today, nearly 100 Boy Scouts learned some of the basics.

Nearly seven dozen Boys Scouts were at the Allegheny County Airport Wednesday to work on earning their aviation merit badge.

"I think the boys all have a fascination with flying and aviation -- even from whenever they were younger and they had the paper airplane contests. You put wings on it, they are interested," Boy Scout leader Jodie Spagnolli said.

After today's session, don't be surprised in a few years if you see some of the Boy Scouts inside the cockpit.

"The Boy Scouts are great. They get a merit badge after today, which is wonderful. It makes them go on. Maybe a lot of them will end up being pilots or working as a mechanic or anything else at the airport," Tony Macioce, of the Allegheny County Airport, said.

"I would guess that out of this group -- we have about 80 today -- we'll probably get three or four that really have an interest in aviation out of this. Everyone will learn something, but we will have three or four who pursue it and probably end up as pilots out of here," FAA safety representative Gerry Vaerewyck said.

For some of these kids, today was the first time to ever get this close to the flying machines.

But, for Jake Spagnolli, whose dad is a pilot, he said earning the merit badge is a blast.

"For me, it's a little bit easier because I already have a lot of experience, but it's difficult for most because they don't know much about airplanes, but it's definitely a great thing to learn," Jake Spagnolli said.

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