The First 11

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the EAA Young Eagles program in 2017, we’re featuring 25 Young Eagles whose stories inspire and exemplify the impact of the program.

When Karl Garman, EAA Lifetime 397981, took his Young Eagles flight, he had already started taking flying lessons and at the time was attending EAA’s Air Academy during EAA Oshkosh 1992. But although his flight wasn’t the start of his passion for aviation, it was the start of something else: the Young Eagles program itself.

“I was part of the first group of Young Eagles when the program kicked off,” Karl said. “They told a few of us [in the Air Academy], I don’t know … if we were handpicked or if it was random … they said okay we need X number of Air Academy campers to go with one of the chaperones down to the flightline because EAA’s kicking off the Young Eagles program.”

Karl after his Young Eagles flight in a Grumman Widgeon.

Karl said that it wasn’t until they were standing on the flightline that he was told what he was going to be a part of. Soon, though, he had climbed into a 1940s Grumman Widgeon, piloted by Charlie Hillard and copiloted by H. Ross Perot Jr., to circle Wittman field as part of the first group of 11 Young Eagles.

“It kind of awes you to think what series of events what chances brought me at this time and place to this even right now,” he said. “My parents had to be involved in flying for me to be exposed to Oshkosh. I had to have gone to EAA ’91 to understand what was Air Academy all about. I had to get selected, I had to then attend the Air Academy, and then all of a sudden they say okay we need X number of Air Academy campers and I was one of them they picked.”

Karl said he’s been attending EAA’s fly-in convention with his parents, both of whom are pilots, since “time beyond memory” and decided to apply to the EAA Air Academy after attending an event during EAA Oshkosh 1991 at Pioneer Airport that promoted the camp.

“I applied the next year knowing that … I heard it was like a tenth … of the people who applied got in,” he said. “I applied my first year of eligibility and was so happy I got in.”

Karl said that his Young Eagles flight was more about what it meant for others than what it meant for him.

“I was already hooked,” he said. “I had already been exposed to that type of thing growing up and so at the risk of sounding anticlimactic, I don’t think it impacted my personal life as much as it did others. But that’s only because I was fortunate enough to have access to those kinds of experiences that I realized that most other young people don’t have.”

Although the Young Eagles flight was just icing on the cake for Karl, he said that EAA has been an important aspect of his life.

“The organization that Paul Poberezny founded has made such an impression on my life that I could not imagine my life today without EAA’s influence,” he said. “I hope I’ve made good on the investment that [greatest] generation put into us then-young people.”

Tom Poberezny speaks to the first group of Young Eagles.

Karl now holds commercial and flight instructor certifications and has made a career in flight testing; he’s now managing an unmanned aerial system research and development program to help integrate users of drones into the airspace system and is part owner of a 1946 Ercoupe.

If you or someone you know has a Young Eagles story to share, e-mail us at You can also share your Young Eagles photos or video with us on Twitter and Instagram using #YoungEagles25.

Read all 25 for 25 stories here >>

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