THE PILOT Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Late in July 1992, the Experimental Aircraft Owners decided to begin a new program during their annual meeting in Oshkosh, Wisc. The program centered on getting the next generation of kids interested in aviation careers available through flight.

Since that time more than 1.2 million children from the ages of 7 to 17 have experienced flight with pilots who have volunteered their time, aircraft and skills by giving them their first flight in a small aircraft. This equates to 240 young people flown from each public-use airport in the country or 120 kids for each school in the United States.

There are more than 40,000 members of the EAA, and the average per pilot is 30 Young Eagles, but there is one pilot out there that has flown more than 3,400 children.

These children have flown in standard factory-built, amateur-built, antiques, classics, war birds, aerobatic, jets, helicopter, balloons and gliders. All of these types of aircraft have been utilized. Children from 90 different countries have become Young Eagles.

Economically more than 1,913,043 gallons of aviation fuel has been donated and over 173,913 flight hours have been logged by General Aviation aircraft in the Young Eagle Program.

Recently, I gave two youngsters their first small aircraft ride in America. Arkady Velikzhanin and Alena Velikzhania live in Moscow but were here for a visit.

Twelve-year-old Alena was first, with her mother riding in the back seat. She helped fly the plane to Carthage Airport circle and return to Moore County Airport. She says she loved the landing and take-off the best.

Thirteen-year-old Arkady followed, with his father taking the back seat. Arkady picked up skills needed to control the aircraft in the air, and flew out to Seven Lakes and returned doing most of the necessary items to land the plane.

Both kids became Young Eagles that day, and they haven't stopped talking about their experience.

Arkady and Alena are the 254th and 255th Young Eagles in my Piper Arrow aircraft.

Hopefully, soon EAA Chapter 1220 will be doing a Young Eagle Day in Moore County, and I will be able to fly other young children from the area.

The chapter will be announcing a date and place in the next few months. All that parents need to do is escort their children to the airstrip, sign a permission slip, and allow them to learn about how an aircraft flies, follow through a preflight inspection, and listen about safety issues for the flight.

Barbara Harris-Para has just moved to the Whispering Pines from New Jersey. She is a FAA certified multi-engine flight instructor with more than 4,000 hours of flight time.

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