By TED LUEBBERS
Twenty youngsters recently had a chance to fly in both a helicopter and a general aviation fixed wing aircraft at Leesburg International Airport (KLEE) in Leesburg, Florida.
Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 held a Young Eagles flying event Dec. 8, 2018, at the airport for these young people. For most, it was the first time they had flown in a plane.
These children and their parents convened at the EAA Chapter 534 hangar at 9 a.m. to fill out their Young Eagles paper work and have an orientation given to them by Joel Hargis, chapter president. They were told what to expect during the flight and given a chance to meet their EAA pilots.
What made this orientation a bit different was when Hargis asked who wanted to fly in a helicopter — and all the kids raised their hands. On this Young Eagles event, five fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter were provided by EAA volunteer pilots, so it was decided to treat the kids with rides in both types of aircraft.
What made this opportunity possible was Hans-Gunter Vosseler, who brought his Eurocopter to the party and was able to fly five kids at a time. Hans generously pitched in and made four separate flights so that all the Young Eagles got a chance to fly in a helicopter.
In between helicopter flights each child also flew in a single engine general aviation fixed wing aircraft.
The Young Eagles Flight program is designed to give young people an opportunity to fly in a general aviation aircraft with the hope that this exposure will spark an interest in aviation so when they come of age, they will seek out careers in aviation and/or go on to earn a private pilot’s license.
On a national basis, EAA has been offering this free flight program for kids for 25 years and has flown more than 2 million children. The program is open to kids ages 8 to 17.
Upon completion of their Young Eagles flights, each student receives an EAA Flight Commemoration Certificate, and a flight log book signed by their EAA pilot. In addition, each person receives a free on-line “Learn to Fly Course” from Sporty’s that will help them prepare for a FAA written exam if they wish to go on to earn a private pilot’s license. Among several other free things, they also get one hour of dual flight instruction at a flight school of their choice.
EAA Chapter 534 provided six volunteer pilots, as well as nine additional chapter volunteers who helped with the paperwork and escorting kids safely to and from airplanes.
Kids were also treated to a tour by the crew of a medical air care helicopter belonging to Orlando Health. This aircraft is based at the Leesburg International Airport and is on standby for medical emergencies on a 24-7 basis.