"THE PILOT" is a local Newspaper Published Three Times
THE PILOT Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Children from all over Moore County flew up, up and away Saturday for the Young Eagles Day at the Moore County Airport.
While parents waited in the packed lobby to stay out of the heat, pilots from the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) gave children 20-minute aerial tours of the area, flying over their homes, schools and other local landmarks to get a different perspective of everyday sightings.
At least 150 children took in views of Pinehurst Resort, the Traffic Circle, farmland, railroad lines and other sights from the windows of a variety of small planes.
Young Eagles is an international program that began in 1992 to give youngsters ages 8 to 17 the opportunity to go flying at a general aviation airport.
The program has flown more than 1.5 million young people over the years.
While several kids may have experience riding in "big planes," the Young Eagles program is often the first opportunity that children have to fly on small planes like a Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft.
Barbara Harris-Para flew 20 children around the area in her plane. Para has participated in the program since its inception but has been flying children in Moore County for the past five years.
Para said she loves giving children the chance to fly because kids often do not have the same kind of exposure to the field of aviation that she had when she was young.
"Many of them had never flown in a small plane before," she said. "If we do it, it puts a bug in their bonnet and they remember doing it so we can get the next generation interested in aviation."
She added that most pilots will admit that their love of flying comes from an experience with aviation at a young age.
The reactions of her young passengers always amuse her.
"It's trepidation that [the children] have when they first get on," she said. "Then they're amazed. I love to hear the chatter going on in the backseat. One of them said that the cars looked like ants."
Simone Wooley was able to spot her father mowing the yard as pilot Michael Jones flew her and Sarah Kruse over neighborhoods in Southern Pines.
The fly-in program takes place twice a year, giving children more chances to fly. Members of the EAA are required to fly at least 10 children a year.
Over the years, the program has seen more interest from children who are excited to take to the skies. The last fly-in event in December generated a record number, with pilots flying 165 children in one day.
Para hopes the children keep coming to these events. She and her fellow pilots are happy to show young eagles how to fly.