By TED LUEBBERS
Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 Aviation Youth members and some of their parents flew away on general aviation aircraft for lunch at the Pyper Kub Café at the Williston Airport in Florida on Sept. 1, 2018.
Organizers of the chapter’s Aviation Youth program wanted to add a little spice to the program as a reward for all the hard work the kids have put forth this summer learning how to repair real airplanes. They were not charged for the lunch or the flight. Who says there is no free lunch?
The kids and their parents gathered Saturday morning at the EAA Chapter 534 hangar at the Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) at Leesburg, Florida, to get their final instructions about the flight. Chapter pilots also got their flight instructions from Joel Hargis, Young Eagles coordinator, and John Weber, chapter vice president and director of the Aviation Youth Program.
The kids have been working diligently on a light-sport Mini Max aircraft that had been damaged at another airport during a tornado. The owner decided to donate the bruised plane to EAA Chapter 534 for use with the Aviation Youth Program.
When this plane has been restored to flight status, the chapter has several other aircraft kits that have been donated for the young people to work on, chapter officials note.
The work the kids do on the airplanes is overseen by chapter members who have built experimental aircraft themselves. Some of the volunteer members are also certified aircraft mechanics, general aviation pilots, and one is a certified flight instructor.
On an ordinary Saturday these young folks would be working in the hangar on the Mini Max or utilizing the new flight simulator that is set up for their use.
But flights for the $100 hamburger from time to time stimulate their enthusiasm to continue to learn all they can about aviation.
Since our country is suffering from a pilot shortage, it is hoped that this aviation exposure will stimulate their interest to seek out aviation careers and private pilot certificates when older.
For Saturday’s lunch flight there were 11 Aviation Youth members, six family members, and several chapter volunteers. The chapter provided nine aircraft and volunteer pilots.
Take off time was at 10:30 a.m. and all had returned safely to Leesburg International Airport by 2 p.m. after a hearty lunch.