Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fernandina Beach Kids Get a Visit from above; Preschoolers Take Close Look at a Helicopter

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Fernandina Beach Kids Get a Visit from above; Preschoolers Take Close Look at a Helicopter

Article excerpt

Byline: AMELIA A. HART, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

FERNANDINA BEACH -- About 100 Nassau County preschoolers on Wednesday got a chance to get up close and personal with a helicopter and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection pilots who fly it.

Preschoolers from Episcopal Children's Services Head Start programs in Fernandina Beach and Callahan and the Amelia Island Parent Cooperative Preschool squealed with excitement and waved as the helicopter roared into view and touched down on the athletic field in front of the Peck Center on South 10th Street.

Customs officers George Oliver and John Daniels Jr., from the Jacksonville Air & Marine Branch of U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the U.S. Homeland Security Department, then let the children take a peek inside the AS350 Eurocopter's cockpit.

In addition to the children taking a curious gander, parents, teachers and members of the Fernandina Beach police and fire departments took advantage of the opportunity to chat with the officers and ask about their aircraft.

The visit by the customs officers came as the Head Start students are in the midst of studying transportation on air, land and water, said Katie Mulkearns, family support specialist at Peck Head Start.

Mulkearns' father, a retired customs officer who now teaches at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Brunswick, Ga., arranged the visit, she said.

Kevin Wall of Fernandina Beach, whose 4-year-old son Karter, a student at the Amelia Island Parent Cooperative Preschool, was waiting for his chance to look inside the helicopter, said the visit was a good experience for the children.

"This is just something they've never seen before. It's something I've never seen before. It's cool," Wall said. "Maybe they'll want to grow up and do something like this when they're big. …

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