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Art&Seek Jr: The Wild Blue Yonder

by Therese Powell 21 Aug 2012 2:00 PM

Even if you’re not leavin’ on a jet plane this summer you can take the kids out to Founder’s Plaza at DFW Airport to watch planes come and go.


Art&Seek Jr. is one mom‘s quest to find activities to end the seemingly endless chorus of the “I’m Bored Blues” while having fun herself.  Impossible you say? Check back on Tuesdays for kid-friendly events that are fun for adults, too.

I’m a child of the Cold War – truly. My dad was a Navy pilot, and as a result I spent most of my childhood near a large military base in the Midwest. Various aircraft  roared overhead almost constantly as they landed and took off from nearby runways. At night, the sound of jet engines preparing for takeoff was so loud the walls of our house would literally shake. We also experienced the wail of the civil defense sirens two or three times a day. Why, I’m not sure. Perhaps it was just to remind us that we were sitting on ground zero and to stay alert. You’d think with all that noise my friends and I would have been a pretty nervous lot, but quite the contrary. We loved watching the bombers, jets and cargo aircraft fly overhead. As a tiny child I remember my mother pointing to the sky when a plane – any plane – flew over and saying, “there goes daddy!” We were comforted and awestruck by the commotion in the sky. My childhood might have been unique, but my childhood love of aircraft is universal. Kids love planes.

You can get a great view of the planes landing at DFW Airport at Founders Plaza

I’ve heard stories that back in the olden days (meaning the 50s and 60s), people used to drive their cars out to Love Field and watch the planes land. You could park at the end of the runway near Bachman Lake and see the planes come and go. Or, if you were feeling really uptown, you could watch from the observation deck inside the airport terminal. It was a fun, free, family activity that’s sadly gone by the wayside. Or maybe not. I recently heard about Founders Plaza, a park/observation area near Dallas/Forth Worth International Airport where you can relive this lost past time. You can view DFW’s  1,700 plus take-offs and landings from the tiny park that (thankfully) has plenty of shade and seating. If you want a closer view, there are four telescopes on site. What really makes the trip worthwhile is the air traffic control communications from the FAA tower that are broadcast throughout the park. It was exciting listening to the traffic controllers guide the arriving planes in for landing.

Here’s a tip: While I’ll admit that my land navigation skills are somewhat lacking, the construction – coupled with the fast-moving highway traffic – made our journey to Founders Plaza far more exciting than anything we could have ridden at Six Flags. Be sure you have a GPS or your route well mapped out before you go. The best way to get there is to take 114  towards the airport, exit at Texan Trail and then go south to the park, which is at the corner of Texan Trail and N. Airfield Drive.

Another great place for kids to get their aviation fix is the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field. Besides all the exhibits and aircraft on display, there is also a play area that features a full size play plane that kids can explore, a control tower for climbing, a theater that plays Jay-Jay the Jet Plane cartoons and bounce houses on the weekends. I’ll tell you, though, even with all that, the absolute best thing about this play ground is that it is INDOORS. And as we all know, this time of the year indoor playgrounds are the bomb. No burned tushies.

Happy flying!

Therese Powell is an Art&Seek calendar coordinator and KERA-TV producer.  She spends most of her free time seeking out adventures for her 7-year-old daughter, Rose.  Tell us about your quirky kid adventures by leaving a comment. Or e-mail Therese at [email protected].