A group of nine young people accompanied by parents gathered at the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 hangar at the Leesburg International Airport on October 20, 2018 for a Young Eagles Flight program.
Each youngster had a flight in a private plane. Joel Hargis, the Chapter 534 Young Eagle Coordinator, gave a short talk to the young folks and parents about the program and what to expect during the flight.
The Young Eagles Flight program is free and open to young people ages 8 to 17. For most of these kids it is the first time they have had an opportunity to fly in a single engine General Aviation aircraft.
There is always a lot of eager anticipation on their part as they complete the necessary paperwork and get introduced to their EAA pilot. The lucky ones who sit in the right-hand seat may actually get to fly the plane under the watchful eye of their skilled EAA pilot once the plane is in the air.
The National EAA organization promotes the Young Eagles Flight program through its local chapters throughout the world. The program is free and provided by volunteer pilots and members of each local chapter. EAA hopes that by doing this they will stimulate an interest in aviation in the minds of these young folks so that when they become of age they will seek careers in aviation and/or become private pilots.
This type of activity has become more important in recent years as the number of pilots and aviation mechanics becomes smaller due to aging out because of retirements and other reasons. There will be a shortage of private pilots and the aviation industry will become a career rich environment for employment for the next 20 years.
When kids participate in a Young Eagles event they not only get a flight in a general aviation airplane but also receive an official EAA certificate of their flight and a log book signed by their EAA pilot. They receive, at no charge, access to an online ground school course they would have to complete in order to qualify for a private pilot license.
On top of all that they receive free admission to over three hundred science and technology museums in the country. If they wish to continue to learn to fly, EAA will pay for their first flight lesson at any flight school of their choice.
On this day EAA Chapter 534 provided four volunteer pilots, four fixed wing aircraft and eight additional member volunteers to handle the paperwork and escort duty.
If you wish to learn more about the Young Eagles program or EAA Chapter 534 you may go to the following web sites. www.youngeagles.org/join or www.534.eaachapter.org
Story and photos by Ted Luebbers.