EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wisconsin — Too many people look at aviation today within a narrow scope, while it is actually an amazing expression of our freedom, according to Jack Pelton, chairman of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
Pelton commented for the annual observance of National Aviation Day, which is held each Aug. 19 to commemorate the birthday of aviation pioneer Orville Wright.
Orville and his brother, Wilbur, made history on Dec. 17, 1903, with their initial controlled, manned flights over the dunes of Kill Devil Hills (Kitty Hawk), North Carolina.
“Many have enjoyed or spoken poetically of the freedom of the open road or the open water, but there’s another whole dimension with the freedom of the open sky,” Pelton said. “Too many people equate aviation only with commercial air travel and their own experiences within that narrow scope. While commercial air service is a valuable use of flying technology, such perceptions completely miss the joy, freedom, and sense of achievement that comes with personal flight. It is something that has been possible for us for just little more than a century. Such freedom must be celebrated in our nation, at the same level as so many other recreational pursuits are that are fulfilling and enjoyable for each of us.”
EAA, with more than 190,000 members worldwide, supports those who see flying as an expression of freedom. Along with building, restoring, and flying aircraft, EAA’s mission is growing participation in aviation. The association’s programs include Young Eagles, which since 1992 has flown more than 1.9 million young people on free demonstration flights, and Eagle Flights, which allows adults to experience flight within a mentoring program with EAA members in more than 900 local chapters.
“There is a spirit within us to explore our own possibilities, expand our horizons, and savor our freedoms,” said Pelton, who also chairs the world’s largest fly-in convention, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, which takes place each July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. “Flight is the natural extension of that spirit. Celebrate that freedom. Go fly.”