EAA Chapter 229 bears a strong resemblance to a great many of its peer chapters. The membership is overwhelmingly male and old.
As I sit on the verge of turning 61 years old, it concerns me that I am one of the younger members of the group. Attendance at gatherings is low enough that meetings are only held during the colder weather months when Snowbirds move south to mix in with the natives. Even then, the hangar is never full. If a dozen members show up at the same time, it’s a big deal.
Seven miles away from EAA Chapter 229’s hangar/workshop is the local public high school. Inside that school building sit more than 150 students who are taking an aerospace course that will eventually lead to the completion of their private pilot ground school requirements. Some want to fly, some want to turn wrenches, some want to become engineers who design the aircraft of the future, and some want to do some combination of two or more of those things.
It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see the irony of the situation. One group wants very much to find new, younger members who might revitalize the organization. The other is made up of young people who seek a means of getting through the chain-link fences, the barbed wire, and the Do Not Enter signs, to begin their careers in aviation.[Read more…]