Coos Bay students learn history of flight

Jessie Higgins / The World /

Published Dec 9, 2012 at 04:00AM

COOS BAY — Tucked away in a far corner of Marshfield High School, a group of about 20 students in Jeff Eberwein’s fourth-period history class learn about a life of adventure, travel and flight.

It’s a life, Eberwein tells his students, that could be theirs.

The elective aviation history class takes students from Leonardo da Vinci’s flight machine drawings to the Wright brothers’ first flight, through more than 100 years of aviation’s advances up to the space program.

“It supplements all other history classes, as the history of flight is inextricably linked to the history of the world,” Eberwein said. It also excites students’ imaginations.

“If you want to do something in life, you have to go out and make it happen,” said Mike Martin, one of Eberwein’s many guest lecturers, the son of a Tuskegee Airman from World War II. “Right now is the time to get the skills so you can go out and make it happen.”

Eberwein remembers one of his students, who was raised in poverty, coming through his class and becoming “absolutely enthralled with flying,” he said. “He ended up getting a scholarship to college and he chose a school where he could become a pilot.”

Another of his former students, at Marshfield on exchange from Germany, is now training to be an airline pilot for Lufthansa in Germany.

Eberwein reminds his students you don’t have to be a pilot to work in the aviation industry.

McKenzi Seggerman, 18, said she spent most of her high school career directionless. Then in the first weeks of this year’s aviation history class, the students watched a documentary on the 9/11 terror attacks.

“I saw what the flight attendants did for those people,” Seggerman said. The flight attendants stayed calm, she said, telling people to call loved ones.

Seggerman now plans to attend the International Air and Hospitality Academy in Vancouver, Wash. to become a flight attendant when she graduates.