Getting the Future Involved with Aviation

  • Jan 26, 2014 3:35pm GMT

Time after time I get asked these two questions, “How did you get yourself into aviation?” and “What is the best way to get my child into aviation?” An easy answer, Young Eagles.

In today’s world, aviation is getting harder and harder to get into as its still more of a “hearsay” in schools. In the US, as we’re facing an upcoming shortage of pilots and aviation professionals it's very critical that this issue is addressed. The Experimental Aviation Association (EAA)’s Young Eagles Program (YE) is a program that has been known as a front runner with addressing this issue by introducing the gift of a free flight to tomorrow's leaders.

My Start

At the age of 10, my mother and I were outside washing the family car when we spotted a low flying hot air balloon that ended up landing on our street! Naturally, we went over to investigate and see if everyone was alright. After seeing that everything was okay the pilot told me, “Hey you should go check out the fly-in down the road, that’s where I was coming from and I think you’d like it.” He was talking about the Flabob Airport’s annual fly-in in Riverside, California.

As soon as I set foot on the airport grounds I was hooked. I marveled at the sea of planes in all shapes and sizes lined up on the grass. About an hour after taking in the sights and smells of fresh prop exhaust, I came across a booth that attracted my eyes; it read: “Free Flights.” It was a booth advertising the Young Eagles Program, explaining that there was no catch, simply a free introduction flight for me to experience. So I got my mother’s permission and signed up to attend my first YE experience at EAA’s Chapter 1.

The Young Eagles Program

From EAA:

"The EAA Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people, ages 8 - 17, an opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane. These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers.

Since 1992, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight through the program. Young Eagles have been registered in more than 90 different countries and have been flown by more than 42,000 volunteer pilots.”

Volunteering for Young Eagles

From the moment I became airborne it was as if I had my own set of wings. You see, flying in a small aircraft rather than flying in a heavy airliner is a whole other experience. I knew I wanted to fly and have a career involved with aviation. With that, I came back volunteering each month escorting kids my own age and even older, sharing the same experience and joy that I experienced. Volunteering, in my opinion, is one of those dying arts, I urge you parents out there to go out and get your kids involved with such activities. Volunteering at my local EAA chapter growing up was so beneficial to me, it gave me life skills, communication skills and much more then I could ask for.