The California Capital Airshow organization invited hundreds of students to the Mather Airport for a hands-on aviation experience Sunday afternoon.

K-12 students from the Sacramento region had the chance to meet professionals in the aviation industry at the ‘Positive Altitude’ event.

“The air show is the fun part,” said Terrence McNamara, one of the board members of the CCA.

“Really, this is about science, technology, engineering, and math, and trying to get kids interested in STEM activities,” McNamara said. “So, when they come to these events, they get to see all the different things that they could be exposed to through STEM.”

According to organizers, some students also had the opportunity to enjoy a free flying lesson with a certified flight instructor. McNamara says the kids who were chosen had to write an essay in which they described a hardship they had to overcome.

“I thought it was awesome that you could have a chance to do this just by writing an essay,” Jose Perez said, a fourth grade student at the event.

The 10-year-old wrote about how difficult it was for him and his family to cope when his great grandmother died.

Perez is an aspiring pilot, and got to ride inside a plane for the first time Sunday. He said he became interested in exploring the aviation industry after his older brother joined the United States Air Force.

“After every flight, I have yet to come back from one of these where the kids aren't just smiling for a week straight,” said pilot Dennis Pearson, a volunteer at Sunday's event.

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