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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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

May 17, 2011 International Learn to Fly Day

The Liberty Gazette
May 17, 2011

Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: This Saturday, May 21 is International Learn to Fly Day. Yep, there really is such a thing, and yes, it is international.

The plan for an annual Learn to Fly Day was announced at EAA’s AirVenture Oshkosh in 2009 as a cooperative effort set in motion by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) of pilots, companies, governments, and organizations in countries around the world to raise interest in flying and encourage current pilots to get others involved in aviation. We have already seen the incredible success of the flight introduction program Young Eagles since 1992, thanks to EAA, and this brings us another way to introduce the world of aviation to more folks.

The EAA is asking the entire aviation community to participate; from individual pilots to flight schools, from flying clubs to aviation organizations, from FBO’s to the rest of the aviation industry. Everyone is encouraged to get involved on International Learn to Fly Day.

For pilots, it can be as easy as taking someone flying or as elaborate as hosting a fly-in. Our goal is simple: introduce someone new to aviation. Take a trip down to Ellington Field and talk with some of the flight instructors at Flying Tigers. They’ll be happy to answer all your questions about learning to fly.

Weather permitting, we’ll be in Indianapolis this weekend to meet with volunteers and fly and evaluate the course Mike designed for the Indy Air Race. It’s shaping up to be a big event in a town that loves racing of any kind. The county airport nearest my sister’s house will be hosting International Learn to Fly events that day also, and have asked us to stop in and “share the spirit–take someone flying.”

Learning to fly, says EAA, “immerses you in new sensations and allows you to conquer exciting challenges. It changes how you perceive yourself and what you know you can accomplish, opens up an escape from the two dimensional world, and takes you to a place with new perspectives. Suddenly, distances shrink and you are no longer limited by your cares, concerns and duties on the ground. Learning to fly frees you to explore the world and expand your horizons–the distance is your decision.”

Mike: Barrington Irving comes to mind. Now in his mid-twenties, he was the youngest person ever, and the only black person to fly solo around the world. Barrington heads up an organization that encourages youngsters to follow their dreams, called “Experience Aviation.” Growing up in Miami, Barrington thought the only way for a young black man to get out of his circumstances would be through a football scholarship. But one day an airline pilot walked into the Christian bookstore where he worked after school, offered to show young Barrington the cockpit of an airplane, and from there, his life took an amazing turn. I ran into him while at a fuel stop in Raleigh-Durham and had a nice chat. It’s efforts like these, by people like Barrington, and groups such as EAA that open doors some people never realized were there.

Linda: Many an aviator quotes Leonardo da Vinci, “When once you have tasted flight you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Here’s to blue skies.

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