By TED LUEBBERS
Several young people got their first chance to take to the skies at a Young Eagles event hosted by Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 at Leesburg International Airport in Florida on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017.
Dads for a Day, a mentoring group of adults for young people based in the Villages, Florida, brought several kids to the airport to give them the opportunity to take a first flight in a general aviation aircraft.
Other children from the general public joined them. In all, EAA Chapter 534 members flew 14 kids and one mother.
EAA Chapter 534 usually flies Young Eagles at no charge each month except during the summer months.
On a national basis, EAA has been doing this for more than 25 years, completing more than 2 million flights. The idea is to acquaint young people with the joys of flight in a general aviation aircraft hoping that this will light a spark of interest in aviation so that one day they might want to become a pilot or seek a career in aviation.
During their flying experience, many of the young people actually get a chance to take the controls of the airplane under the watchful eye of their experienced EAA pilot.
After each flight they receive a log book filled out by their pilot and a certificate commemorating the flight.
They also become eligible for a free online ground school course. The chapter also will pay for one hour of flight training by a certified flight instructor of their choice if they want to move on to earn a private pilot’s license.
On this day, the last Young Eagles event for the chapter in 2017, members provided five fixed-wing aircraft and volunteer pilots. Another 10 chapter members turned out to handle the paperwork, answer questions, and escort children back and forth on the airport ramp.