The Liberty Gazette
April 26, 2016
Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: Although the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have different Merit Badge choices and requirements, learning about aviation does qualify for both groups. Boy Scouts can earn an Aviation Merit Badge, and Girl Scouts can earn badges in Science & Technology, and aviation certainly qualifies.
We are enthusiastic about every invitation and every opportunity to present to these scouting groups, and others such as homeschoolers, American Heritage Girls, Awana, the many interesting aspects of aviation and aerospace.
Recently a Scout from Midland, Georgia completed something special in pursuit of fulfilling requirements for his final Scout rank: a public service project to become an Eagle Scout. Young Jerad had been interested in aviation even before his troop received Young Eagles flights in 2011, but his first flight pretty much sealed the deal and soon he became a regular at Young Eagles rallies and local chapter meetings and events of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
Linda: Since the expensive, violative, and worthless TSA has threatened so many airport managers into thinking they must build fences around airports (no, there is no logic in that), many people now think that airports are off-limits, but the majority of the pilot population absolutely loves sharing their passion for aviation. The useless TSA has polluted our world with a “stay-out” attitude, completely contrary to the enthusiasm pilots have for the adventure of flight.
15-year old Jerad wanted to help make his local airport more inviting despite government overreach and his idea was a perfect match for an Eagle Scout public service project.
Back in the days when there was no such thing as TSA people could come to their community airport and sit at a picnic table or park bench and watch airplanes take off and land, talk with pilots, and maybe even catch a ride over town, just for the fun of it. At Jerad’s local airport the park benches were gone, replaced by ugly fences that screamed “Keep Out”.
Thanks to Jerad and all his supporters though a new observation deck welcomes anyone to come and enjoy the spirit of their local airport. Now when younger children come for their first Young Eagles flight they will have a safe place to hang out and watch the planes come and go, as each pilot tries to grease on the perfect landing.
The observation deck didn’t come easily. It was a lot of work, but it is Jerad’s way of giving back to the Young Eagles program that has helped him discover his interests. He developed building plans and earned permission from all the necessary stakeholders - the airport director, airport commission, the FBO manager, the FAA, and the Boy Scout Eagle Board - then became the project manager and chief promoter, winning volunteers and donations from the community and taking full responsibility for the project.
In the end they received $4,500 from 37 donors, and 325 hours of labor from 30 volunteers, bringing Jerad’s plans to fruition. These were aviation and community supporters, including pro-aviation company 84 Lumber.
Airports exist to serve communities and as part of the larger transportation network. We should be shouting “Welcome – come on in,” rather than trying to discourage people from enjoying their public assets.
Next month the Thunder in the Valley Air Show will be at Jerad’s airport and he’s looking forward to seeing his deck serving the public good.