CARY – From the outside, it just looked like a really big truck. But on the inside was a slew of technological mechanisms aimed at showing people what the U.S. Army is all about.
Coming out of Fort Knox, Kentucky, and into the parking lot of Cary-Grove High School on Friday, the U.S. Army Aviation Adventure Semi is a 75-foot mobile recruiting asset containing a multitude of interactive exhibits.
As per the truck’s name, all the exhibits are geared toward aviation, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Foor said.
Cary-Grove students and faculty who entered could engage in different simulator games with authentic seating and controllers, as well as look through various displays and Army career kiosks. There were also two ‘Immersa Domes’ under which people could sit and experience virtual reality aviation scenarios, complete with sight, smell and sound.
“The goal for this truck, or this asset, is to connect America’s Army with America’s people,” Foor said.
Before setting up for the students of Cary-Grove High School, the truck made appearances earlier throughout the week at Woodstock North, Huntley and Crystal Lake South high schools.
This was the second year the Crystal Lake Army recruiting station requested the Aviation Semi, said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mottlau, who’s with the local station.
Before visiting Cary-Grove on Friday, this year’s collective student turnout had already topped last year’s by about 200 people, Mottlau said.
Halfway through Friday, another 200-plus students had walked through and tried the interactive exhibits.
At that time, Foor said the trip to the McHenry County schools had garnered 852 visits from students, faculty and staff.
“The idea [is] we bring them on the truck and they get to experience some of the things the Army has to offer,” Foor said.
As Cary-Grove senior Brendan O’Reilly sat in the Apache helicopter simulator, he said he was interested in the Aviation Semi, but not so much in joining the Army.
“Not really at all,” O’Reilly said, eyes on the screen. “But, I mean, there are thousands of ways the Army could try to convince us to join, and this is definitely a cool way.”