The energy was flowing at Burbank Bob Hope Airport Thursday morning.
Seventy bubbly children made the annual visit where they learned about the history of the airport, participated in demonstrations and saw the equipment used by the airport police and fire departments.
Seeing what goes on behind-the-scenes is a great opportunity for the kids because many of them don’t get the opportunity to fly, said Jon McGinley, recreation coordinator of the Summer Daze Express at Robert Gross Park.
“The campers totally look forward to this every year and even the counselors say it’s their favorite field trip,” he said.
Narbeh Hartoonian, explosive specialist with the Transportation Security Administration, had hidden chocolate bars and water guns in three carry-on bags and had six of the campers volunteer to search the bags. The exercise, he said, was to show the children how some passengers hide things to sneak them onto the aircrafts.
Pete Serrano, manager of ramp and operations, showed how ground crew members guide the jets into the terminal bays. Serrano helped camper David Jacquin slip into an orange vest and grasp an orange wand into each fist. Together they guided camper Mandy Hall, who pretended to be a jet liner, into the terminal parking area.
Mandy, 11, said it was fun “But my arms are tired.”
The hands down favorite was the taser, demonstrated by Sgt. Tom Davenport of the airport police department. He aimed it at a large poster of a perpetrator on the station wall.
The demonstrations of the tools of the trade give the children a realistic idea of what the airport police and fire personnel do and the equipment they use, said airport police officer Irma Albaro.
“It shows that law enforcement is more than just guns,” she said. “And that we are approachable.”
Glendale Police officer Mike Woolner imparted facts about the Burbank Police helicopter.
“It helps us keep officers on the ground safe and look for lost children,” he said. “We have to go through a lot of training and get a license to fly helicopters.”
Ramsey Ohannessian, 7, was one of several children who climbed into the cockpit.
“I saw the gears and stuff!” He said. But he added “The tasers were cool!”
Jeffry Stein, 9, was surprised that the taser did not shoot a bolt of lightening to zap the law offender, but a piece of wire.
“I’ve always been fascinated by lasers,” he said.
Once a year the camp’s children are invited to come and learn about the roles of the airport police and fire departments as well as the tenants, like Southwest Airlines, said Lucy Burghdorf, manager of public relations and government affairs.
The partnership with the city’s Gross Park campers grew out of the fact that many of the children live in the airport area and because Robert Gross Park was once owned by Lockheed and Lockheed gave the park to the city of Burbank, Burghdorf said.
“This camp is special to our hearts because it is part of Lockheed’s history and part of the Lockheed family, and being so close, it gives the kids a chance to come here and be able to learn about aviation, safety and the history of the Burbank Bob Hope Airport,” she said.