Students enjoy Dixie Crows Symposium

Steve Tourangeau, BAE Systems advocate, assists Elise Rice as she tries on their Striker helmet designed for fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

Steve Tourangeau, BAE Systems advocate, assists Elise Rice as she tries on their Striker helmet designed for fighter pilots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tommie Horton)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- People stared and pointed as the red and white drone circled overhead.

At the helm was Alva Shell, 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron human resources supervisor, perched on the second floor of the Century of Flight hangar as his $1,300 piece of equipment flew above the crowd.

Shell's demonstration was part of the 40th annual Dixie Crows Symposium conducted at the Museum of Aviation.

The Dixie Crows, a chapter of the American Old Crows, held technical classes, both classified and unclassified Tuesday through Thursday. Classes, such as electronic warfare trends and cyber threats were among the topics for discussion.

About 1,500 people were expected to attend the event, said Karen Brigance, president of the Dixie Crows and chief engineer for the electronic warfare division at Robins.

At the Crows N.E.S.T., novel experiments with science, students from several Houston County schools learned about Explosive Ordinance Devices, drones and robotics.

Vendors from contracting companies along with representatives from Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and the Air Force Reserve were there handing out brochures and networking with attendees.

Sixth through eighth-graders gathered around the 116th EOD Flight to watch demonstrations of the vehicles.

"They were telling us about the reconnaissance robot. I'm one of those science kids in school," said Marcus Cyr, age 12.

Underneath the SR-71 aircraft, sixth-grade student Ishaaq Dunlap was watching a video on unmanned intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance systems of the Air Force.

"It told us about an air strike where these guys tried to run but [the cameras] kept following them until they found them," Dunlap said.

William Smith, a local engineering teacher, was with several students as they demonstrated their competition robot which took six weeks to complete. 

The robotic vehicle placed seventh out of 45 teams at a competition in Perry.

Georgia Institute of Technology had a booth explaining how lasers worked. "I like it. It is just a lot of mirrors. This seems really cool," said 11-year-old Creed Bone. 

Bone added he wanted to be an engineer when he grows up.