Rockets on the runway: Horsham AGS hosts sizable Scouting event, connects with community

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
  • 111th Attack Wing Public Affairs
Amid light plumes of wafting smoke, a flurry of activity was taking place once again on the presently-idle tarmac here.

As model rockets blasted up through the air, sounds of laughter and awe revealed the delight of attendees. A variety of visitors, from the very young to veteran grandparents, bustled throughout the assortment of displays, tents and attractions constructed by members of the Philadelphia area's Air National Guard unit.

The 111th Attack Wing hosted nearly 700 Scouts, family members and Scout applicants during the Cradle of Liberty Council of Philadelphia, Montgomery and Delaware County's, Boy Scouts of America, "Rocket Into Scouting" recruiting event held here Oct. 24, 2015.

The Wing, formerly an [Fairchild] A-10 Thunderbolt II unit turned remotely-piloted aircraft control center, sponsored the event that proved to be entertaining for both the volunteering Guardsmen and the BSA alike.

"The kids are having blast," said Staff Sgt. Aaron Hart of the 201st RED HORSE, Detachment 1, who monitored the children around the heavy equipment display. "I'm having a wonderful time too. I like volunteering for the RED HORSE and representing us."

Moreover, for a base that no longer produces air shows, the day served to strengthen the bonds between the military here and surrounding population.

"Events like this help tie us to the community and lets them know that we're here and here to help," said Hart. "The kids love climbing all over the equipment and the parents are asking a lot of questions--most were surprised that the base was still open."

Not only did the Wing prove to the public that it is an open and a vital installation, it also showed attendees a good time.

"It's been pretty cool," said Chris Hennessey, parent of seven-year old Scout Christopher. "We got a chance to walk through and see the history of the air base, then we built our rockets and afterward we were able to watch them go up. The whole thing has been pretty cool so far."

Christopher said that launching the rockets was his favorite part of the day.

His father added that if the Wing presented additional Scouting events, they'd be sure to return.

"Everyone here has been great," said Hennessey. "We'd definitely come back if [the Wing hosted] another event like this."

With its exceptionally large turnout and success, the 111th ATKW and the BSA might consider making this a recurring occasion.

"The 111th [Attack Wing] has been fantastic," said Stephanie Marcinkowski, Roosevelt District chairman, Cradle of Liberty Council of the BSA and event coordinator. "With anything we've needed, they've always been helpful. We've always asked difficult questions and [the BSA event coordinators and 111th ATKW volunteers] always been able to think outside the box--which is awesome.

"We are hopeful that this event takes off and that we can continue it on an annual basis."

The days event included a base tour; historical display; static heavy equipment demonstration; emergency management equipment exhibition; rocket construction and launching; Scouting uniform items and food stands;  as well as musical entertainment. Additionally, some Scouts were able to earn their Aviation Merit Badge via a course given by Wing members and a shuttled visit to the local aviation museum. 

Notwithstanding the extensive coordination and planning involved in bringing "Rocket Into Scouting" into fruition, the main theme throughout the day was fun. That mission was clearly accomplished by the 111th ATKW, and simply asserted by attendees.

"I had fun," said Christopher. "Yea. I would do it again."