formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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Monday, May 17, 2010

April 6, 2010 Young Eagles

The Liberty Gazette
April 6, 2010

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

Mike:
Some attended the annual Biplane Fly-in in San Marcos, while others flew their Grummans to Stinson Field in San Antonio for the American Yankee Association fly-in and museum tour. Both of those were undoubtedly fun-filled gatherings, but we had committed to another that day, a Young Eagles event. Some weekends just get filled with more to do than one has time. Evening choices left us deciding between the Grace Flight Gala and fundraiser, and the 1940’s Air Terminal Museum “Pops and Props” fund raising dinner. With so many aviation events landing on March 27th it’s great that the weather cooperated for all.

The Experimental Aircraft Association sponsors the Young Eagles program, designed to introduce young people to aviation and take them for their first flight at no cost to the kids. And, while Young Eagles can go hand-in-hand with the Boy Scouts’ Aviation Merit Badge program, they are not one in the same. The Boy Scouts require that the airplanes flown be production built aircraft, not kit or amateur built, and require pilots have a minimum of 250 hours “in type.” To fly Young Eagles pilots must have 500 hours total time, but aircraft type is not restricted. So, EAA’s Chapter 12, the Ellington Chapter, sent out a request for qualified, experienced pilots with at least 500 hours. The reward: getting to take youngsters for the first (or sometimes second) flight.

Linda: We flew our Cheetah to Houston Southwest Airport in Arcola early Saturday morning. Chapter President Matt, who is building an RV-9, prepared a filling pancake and sausage breakfast, after which fellow member Dan used Miss Cheetah for a ground school lesson for eleven Young Eagles participants. I flipped switches, moved flaps, ailerons, and rudder, as the kids learned what makes an airplane fly. Finally, Mike took the first of his four passengers aloft for an introduction to aerial adventure. When he returned we traded places, alternating flight duty the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon. Some “Eagles” said very little–I think they were in awe of it all–but Mike had one who was a real chatterbox. The energetic youngster was full of questions about “the view from up here.” Some of the parents came along for the ride; most of the kids thought the cows looked like ants. I was particularly pleased that one of the children who came for the experience was a child with Autism. The boy, his brother, and their dad were given a wonderful flying experience by one of our fellow pilots. After demonstrating to one of my “Eagles” how the airplane handles, I had him follow through with me on the controls. This was his second flight, his first being in a Stearman, and he was so pumped about flying that he intends to become a USAF fighter pilot. Near the end of a gratifying day we bought some barbeque just outside the terminal. The business owners’ son was the last child we flew and now wants to become the first pilot in his family. Judging from the huge smiles, I’d say the day was a success.

After a quick change of clothes we headed up the road to Hobby and enjoyed an evening of 1940’s era entertainment. More on that next week. Until then, blue skies.

Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.

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