XENIA — Some area kids had a chance to do some high flyin’ at the Greene County Airport recently.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 382 began its 14th year of offering free airplane rides for children and teens as part of the Young Eagles Flight Program. Under the clear blue sky and a gentle breeze, 27 youngsters ages 8-17 saw parts of the area like they never had before.
The EAA Young Eagles Program started in 1992 with the goal of giving a new generation a chance to learn more about the possibilities that exist in the world of aviation by offering free airplane rides.
“The goal was to fly a million kids by December 2003, the 100th anniversary of powered flight,” said Wayne Moyer, event spokesman. “Much to everybody’s surprise, we did.”
From there, the program took off.
“At that point, somebody said ‘what do we do now?’ Everybody agreed it’s a good thing,” Moyer said.
So it kept going. And since the program was launched, volunteer EAA pilots have flown more than 1.8 million kids who reside in more than 90 countries. By the end of the May 24 rally, EAA 382 pilots had flown more than 1,700 area boys and girls over the course of the last 13 years, several of whom have gone on to earn a private pilot license.
“Free airplane rides are just part of the way EAA 382 conducts a flight rally,” Moyer said. “Our goal is to make a Young Eagles flight a learning experience.”
Each Young Eagle attended a short ground school session to learn how an airplane flies, how the pilot controls it, and how pilots ensure that safety is the prime concern. They helped their pilot conduct a pre-flight inspection before beginning a 20 to 30 minute flight. All Young Eagles had the chance to fly from the co-pilot’s seat. Greene County’s fixed base operator, MacAir Aviation, opened its classroom and made flight simulators and instructors available to Young Eagles waiting for their chance to fly — all at no charge.
“Some kids don’t want to touch the controls, others fly it as well as I do,” Moyer said.
Following the flight, each new Young Eagle received a certificate making them an official Young Eagle, a Young Eagles logbook with their first flight information, and a Young Eagles pin. Their name will then be entered into the “world’s largest logbook,” which is on permanent display at the EAA Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.
In addition, Young Eagles who are 14 or older can earn a free hour of official flight instruction by completing a free on-line private pilot ground school course and can compete for free flight instruction scholarships.
The program is not a one-time only opportunity.
“You can fly one Young Eagle flight a year,” Moyer said. “Kids come back every year. They bring their logbooks and add to it.”
By all accounts, it’s a great experience for everyone involved.
“We’ve had kids jumping up and down getting out of their airplanes, flapping their wings,” Moyer said. “In general, I think everybody has fun. The pilots do, I think the kids do.”
EAA 382 members volunteer their time and aircraft so that flights can be provided.
Interest is growing in the program so quickly that additional rallies are scheduled for June 14, July 19 and Sept. 13. Parents should call Wayne or Ken Moyer at 937-426-9312 to reserve a free ride. Registration and sign-in begins at 8:15 a.m. Parents are encouraged to sit in on ground school classes and to take photos of their children in the airplanes.
Additional information about EAA and the EAA Young Eagles Program is available on the internet at www.youngeagles.org or on the EAA home page at www.eaa.org. Information about EAA Chapter 382, the 2014 schedule, and photos from earlier Young Eagles rallies is available at http://382.eaachapter.org