THE PILOT Friday, May 29, 2009

Young Eagles will soar at the Moore County Airport Saturday.

Members of Chapter 1220 of the Experimental Aircraft Assoc-iation (EAA), based in Carthage, are the older Eagles who will take young people on free airplane rides Saturday.

It's an annual event sponsored by the EAA to give young people experience in the skies.

"A lot of them have never been in a plane before," said Jim Murray, Young Eagles coordinator for the local EAA chapter. "They have a dream, and we give it to them."

The program will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at the airport and will continue "until we run out of kids," according to Murray.

EAA-member pilots will offer airplane rides free of charge to young people between the ages of 8 and 17 years. However, each young rider must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, who must sign a release form on his or her behalf.

At last year's event, 12 pilots were available to fly 11 airplanes, and 158 youngsters took advantage of the opportunity. When they return from their flight, each Young Eagle receives a certificate of accomplishment, signed by the EAA national chairman, actor Harrison Ford of Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars fame.

"That first flight is something they'll remember the rest of their lives," Murray said.

Murray said the general public is invited to visit the airport Saturday and watch the flights and participate in other activities associated with the Young Eagles. If time permits and space is available, the pilots are willing to take some parents on flights, he adds.

Local Boy Scouts and members of the Civil Air Patrol will also be on hand. Hot dogs and other refreshments will be sold during the day.

The Moore County Airport donates fuel for the flights, and the EAA provides the aircraft and the pilots. The Pinecrest ROTC also assists.

Gary Barnum, airport executive director, said the event introduces young people to aviation and almost every such program produces future pilots.

One of those young pilots is Sean Bradley, an Air Force ROTC cadet at Pinecrest High School, who will be attending Air Academy camp in Oshkosh, Wisc., this summer, with all expenses paid.

Murray said the local EAA chapter uses credits earned through these Saturday flights and other flying experiences to promote a deserving individual from Moore County for the Air Academy camp.

The rides offered Saturday will not be just joy rides. Each passenger will receive an educational briefing. The pilot will describe what the rider can expect, explain parts of the aircraft, review an aeronautical chart, identify reference points during the flight and complete a "walk-around" preflight inspection.

EAA is an international aviation membership association founded in 1953 with headquarters in Oshkosh. It has more than 170,000 members in all 50 states and overseas.

In the beginning, EAA was a group of pilots interested in building their own planes. Gradually, it has evolved into an association of people with varied interests in aviation, including antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

Worldwide, the EAA has taken more than 1.5 million young people on Young Eagle flights. The EAA launched the Young Eagles program in 1992. Since then, Young Eagles programs have been registered in more than 90 countries, where some 41,000 volunteer pilots donate their time and expertise.

The local chapter has more than 30 members, including former military pilots, commercial pilots and private aviators and a number of retired pilots who enjoy participating in the EAA mentoring program.

Back to News Articles Page