Flying Young Eagles in Flying Club Aircraft
David Leiting, EAA Eagles Program Manager
Developed in 1992, the EAA Young Eagles program was launched at the 1992 EAA Fly-In Convention in Oshkosh, WI (now known as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh). The goal was to give 1 million youth, between the ages of 8-17, a free introductory aircraft ride by December 17, 2003 – The centennial of flight. With support of volunteer pilots all over the world, that goal was reached in fall of 2003. Since that time, the program has flown more than 2.2 million kids, and continues to thrive at airports across the country. On any given weekend, you can browse your local calendar of aviation events and you’ll likely find an EAA chapter hosting a “Young Eagles Rally” near you. These rallies, which are solely hosted by EAA chapters, provide an event where families can bring their children out to the airport and volunteer pilots will providing free introductory flights.
Getting your Club Members Involved
Participating in the EAA Young Eagles program is often considered one of the best ways to give back to the aviation community, as pilots and aircraft are usually at a premium for flying Young Eagles. As I often say, there will always be plenty of youth to fly, but there will always be a need for more volunteer pilots.
So – How about getting your flying club members involved?
There are two rules to follow, if your club and its members want to support Young Eagles.
Note: Any volunteer pilots are welcome and encouraged to fly Young Eagles on a case-by-case basis at their convenience. These one-off flights are not considered Young Eagles Rallies.
If the following criteria are met, the pilot is able to fly Young Eagles and EAA will kick in an additional $1 million of passenger liability for the flight.
EAA has created a webpage dedicated to helping onboard new volunteer Young Eagles pilots, which you can visit here à EAA.org/YEPilots.
One of the biggest benefits to flying club members participating in a Young Eagles rally is that it allows multiple pilots to participate, while only using one aircraft. With that in mind, you may consider how to divvy up the flight time. A club that I was previously a member of would leave a Hobbs/Tach log sheet in the airplane. The club members were on a consistent rotation, and before and after each flight, the pilot would note the times. At the end of the rally, the hourly rate was divided up amongst the pilots based on what was logged throughout the day.
Providing a Quality Experience
EAA volunteer pilots strive to introduce as many youths as possible to the magic of flight, but the program now emphasis a quality over quantity mentality. This encourages pilots to fly the youths one at time, so each participant is treated to a front row seat to the action. The youths receive a true one-on-one experience as the pilot talks through the entire flight, and perhaps even allows them to follow along on the controls. Following the flight, the pilot can devote all of their attention to one family. This approach can help answer specific questions and encourage the youth to participate in the Young Eagles Flight Plan.
Once flying club members decide to participate in a Young Eagles rally, I recommend taking the following steps.
Your club members won’t regret getting involved in the Young Eagles program. I can testify just how rewarding of an experience it is when you see the look on that young person’s face as they experience the joy of flight for the first time!
If you have any questions regarding EAA Young Eagles, you are welcome to contact us a [email protected].