This piece originally ran in the December 2022 issue of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.
Tracy Miller, EAA 794015, has been the Young Eagles coordinator for EAA Chapter 838 for 15 years. Though not currently flying, aviation has been a part of Tracy’s life since the beginning.
“When I was little, I lived in Chicago, and my dad used to take us [and] park right outside O’Hare, where the planes took off right over you,” Tracy said. “That started my love for aviation, because you just want to reach up and rub their bellies; they were so cute. Ever since then, I’ve been an aviation fanatic.”
Being the Young Eagles coordinator brings Tracy into contact with a lot of children from various backgrounds.
“We partnered with [the police]. We did something called Wings to Fly, where the police selected eight kids from the community who’d had some involvement with the police department,” Tracy said. “Eight kids who had no money and would never ever think of aviation as a hobby, as a career, anything. … These kids, for an hour, were the only kids in the world. They got an extra-long flight, they got a flight jacket with their name embroidered on it, they got all kinds of great swag.”
From events like Wings to Fly to Young Eagles rallies, Tracy is hard at work getting the community involved.
“[Rallies] get a lot of the community people into the door, make them aware of us,” Tracy said. “It just brings people in, community members who never ever would have had a thought of aviation as a hobby or as a career.”
At a time like this, getting more people involved in aviation is important.
“There’s a shortage of pilots,” Tracy explained. “We are basically breeding up-and-coming new pilots. We are getting them ready. We’ve had people get their pilot’s license while they’re still youth, and as soon as they turn old enough, they go to commercial school or they go to the Air Force Academy, so we’re helping the community by creating more pilots, who will in turn create more revenue out there in the world and help stop the flight cancellations at Milwaukee and O’Hare.”
Because of all that Tracy has done for her chapter and for the community, she was awarded the Young Eagles Coordinator of the Year award. When she found out, Tracy said she was “in shock.” However, she wants people to know that what she does isn’t a one-woman show.
“I could not do what I do with this program if it were not for a few core people who help with it,” Tracy said. “There’s a woman who comes every month who sits next to me, and when the printer jams up, she unjams it, and when I freak out because the software freezes up, she says to calm down, and she logs back in again. There’s our chief pilot, who won an award from EAA …. I nominated him for an award a few years ago … and he won it, and so he says this turnabout was fair play. But without those people, this wouldn’t happen, without the support of the chapter. Whatever I need, they give me.”
Volunteers make EAA AirVenture Oshkosh — and just about everything else EAA does — possible. This space in EAA Sport Aviation is dedicated to thanking and shining the spotlight on volunteers from the community. Sadly, it cannot capture all of the thousands of volunteers who give so much to the community every year. So, next time you see a volunteer at AirVenture or elsewhere, however they are pitching in to make EAA better, be sure to thank them for it. It’s the least we can do. Do you know a volunteer you’d like to nominate for Volunteer Spotlight? Visit EAA.org/Submissions.