EAA Chapter 245 held its first Young Eagles event of 2022 on May 29, and it was a HUGE success. Even though we had to reschedule from the day before due to weather, we still had 43 kids show up and have their aviation dreams, if not fulfilled, then at least encouraged. Flying 43 kids is a record for our chapter, and it was only possible because of the efforts of our ground and pilot volunteers lead by our Young Eagles coordinator, Andrew Henry, EAA 136721.
Some statistics of the day include 50 kids signed up in advance and 43 flown (17 girls and 26 boys), eight pilots and aircraft, and 16 ground volunteers, starting at 8:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m.
We had a couple of our aircraft go down with maintenance issues in the morning, but the rest of the pilots soldiered on, making sure no kid was left on the ground. We even had some kids show up without pre-booking on the Young Eagles website but we still managed to get the paperwork filled out and signatures collected to get them in the air.
In addition to the flying bit, we had a few other things happening on the ground. In the chapter hangar, we had hands-on metal bashing and riveting happening for the kids. This was really popular and hopefully has set the hook for some future homebuilders. In addition, one of our members had his Davis DA-2 out and was giving a talk on airplanes and what to expect in the air. I even had one passenger say, “oh yeah, they told us about that on the ground,” when I explained why the air was getting rough late in the morning.
Feedback from the local community on social media (primarily Facebook) has been incredible, which mirrors what I heard on the field during the day. As one of the pilots, I had an absolutely great time flying nine kids. The one that stands out for me was a young girl about 10 or 11. She was so nervous heading to the airplane she could barely walk. At around the 300 feet AGL mark she transformed into a future pilot with a huge grin saying over and over, “This is so cool.” She even did a great job flying my Maule for a leg of the trip! As our own Vice President Mark Briggs, EAA 795537, says, “That is why we do this.”
I want to thank everyone who was involved that made this day such a success.
Ground operations: Andrew Henry, John Montgomery, Curtis Hillier, Glenn McGee, Scott Miller, Martin Poettcker, Yvon Mayo, Chris Hepburn, Paul Groulx, Bill Reid, Chase Reimer, John Weir, Myriam Guirguis and son, Judy Potter, Marian Mason, Caroline Fortin, Rick Holloway.
Pilots: Mike Ayling (RV-8), Mark Briggs (Glastar Sportsman), Matt Pearson (Cirrus SR-22), David Pettersson (Piper Archer), Phil Johnston (Cozy IV), Ken Potter (Grumman Cheetah), myself (Mark Richardson — Maule M5-235C).
Are we doing it again this year? Funny you should ask; Why yes, yes we are — September 10 (rain date September 11). Can’t wait!