Hayden Hutzler, a 14-year-old from Melissa, said he has always been interested in air and space crafts. He hopes to be able to work on aerospace projects in the future. This past July, Hayden was able to feel as if he was living his dream. From July 16th -21st, Hayden attended the Mach II Aviation Challenge at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Hayden said he likes the design aspects of aircrafts over flying, though. “Even though I would love to be a pilot, I would rather be the one designing the aircraft, rather than flying it,” he stated.

While attending the camp, Hayden ran simulators and practiced water landings and survival skills. He learned the different aspects of flight, and practiced ceremony commands and motions. Hayden also learned how to patrol and area as well as breaching buildings — a drill that teaches the most effective way to clear a building in case of a threat.

Hayden said the excitement of camp helped keep him from getting homesick. “At first I was a little nervous, but once I was there, the excitement drowned out the nerves,” he said.

Hayden is thankful for the opportunity to attend the Aviation Challenge. “I enjoyed all the aspects of the camp; as I believe many other kids my age would, and found that the skills and information that I learned have helped me get closer to my goal of becoming an aerospace engineer,” he stated.

Hayden is a second generation attendee. Jennifer Hutzler, Hayden’s mom, went to space camp when she was a teenager. Hutzler said their search for a space camp turned up even better results for Hayden.

“Originally, we were looking at space camp for Hayden and found an aviation camp and robotics camp at the same place by the same people,” said Hutzler. “Hayden was most interested in the aviation camp.”

Even though she was apprehensive about Hayden being gone for a week, Hutzler knew he would be fine. “I was nervous,” she said, “but I did the same thing when I was his age. I knew he would be ok.”

Hutzler highly recommends the camp to any parent or child with a love of aerospace. “The people who run the space camp and aviation camp are wonderful and do a great job of communicating with parents,” Hutzler said. “If your kids are interested in space, flight or robotics, I would recommend it.”

According to Hutzler, the camp employees are a huge help.“Hayden flew out of D/FW and home by himself, but the camp people were there to pick him up, and to make sure he got on the correct flight home,” she said.

She added that Hayden can return next year if he so desires.