KDOT demonstrates new Airspace Awareness Tool at Eudora High School

The Kansas Department of Transportation demonstrated its new Airspace Awareness Tool Friday morning at Eudora High School.

The tool, which uses Google Earth to map out airspaces in Kansas and identify structures that may interrupt the space, is the first of its kind in the country and will be available online.

“The hard part is this stuff isn’t really out there,” said Ed Young, director of KDOT’s division of aviation, of the airspaces around airports. “You can’t touch it.”

The tool is a necessary step toward air safety, but Young said it was more for economic development purposes. It’s been in development for about two years, and most of the $250,000 bill was paid by the Federal Aviation Administration. The next step was finding someone to work with the tool in its development stage.

Eudora High School math teacher Scott Keltner was spearheading such an economic development project, organizing an effort to build a relatively short wind turbine on the school’s campus. Some students who are assisting Keltner with the project attended the software demonstration, browsing the site on laptops and looking for structures that could be obstructions for pilots.

“To see them not cracking the textbooks and using the skills is great,” Keltner said.

Keltner likes using real-world problems in his classes, something junior Alex Whitten likes. Whitten, who wants to be an architectural engineer, has gotten involved in the project to build the wind turbine and said he felt lucky to be able to have so many real world applications of math and science while in school.

“It gives you a chance to look at something real,” he said. “I like to go outside and be doing stuff.”

That was part of the reason Young worked with the school and why the demonstration was held there. He had heard of the wind turbine project, one of about 4,000 proposed in Kansas during the past two years. The turbine’s proposed location is near Lawrence Municipal Airport, and while it wouldn’t be tall enough to cause an obstruction, it made a good example for use of the tool.

“We want to encourage our kids to continue to be technological innovators,” Young said.

The site is expected to go live in the next 60 to 90 days. Anyone interested in seeing the site should contact KDOT’s department of aviation at KDOTAviation@ksdot.org.