Sunday, January 3, 2016

Experimental Aircraft Association and the Young Eagles Program

In 1991, a survey was done by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) to help the organization understand the priorities of the membership and the direction the members would like the organization to follow. One area the survey showed on was getting young people involved in aviation. Then, when asked how the members became involved, they responded “through a flight experience from a friend or relative”. The combination of these two responses triggered the inception of the Young Eagles organization.

In walks Samuel C. Johnson. Johnson was the fourth generation to head the family business - S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., headquartered in Racine, WI – just down the road from Oshkosh, WI – the home of the EAA. A long-time pilot and friend of aviation, Johnson donated $1 million to the EAA to endow the Young Eagles program.

The following May, the Young Eagles Program was unveiled at a Washington, D.C. news conference. The first Young Eagle Flight was in July of 1992.

The initial goal of the program was to fly one million children before December 17 2003, the 100th anniversary of flight celebration. That goal was achieved on November 13, 2003. As of December 31, 2015 -- 1,964,734 kids have experience flight through this fine organization.

Further, the mission of the EAA Young Eagles Program is to provide a flight experience – free of charge – in a General Aviation (GA) aircraft for young people (primarily between the ages of 8 and 17). Flights are provided by EAA members.

In March 2011 EAA reported the results of a study on the program that showed that program participants are over 5 times more likely to become a pilot than those who never participated and that 9% of those new pilots are female. This is an increase of 50% compared to the general population of pilots, which is less than 6% female.

As they continue to evolve the program, at AirVenture Oshkosh 2011, EAA unveiled a new program called "International Young Eagles Day," a day set aside to encourage all EAA members and Chapters to participate that is held on the second Saturday of June annually.

And at AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, EAA unveiled a new program called "Eagle Flights," which will offer rides for adults.

World renowned Champion Aerobatic pilot Sean D. Tucker has been the Young Eagles Chairman since 2013. He is the fifth chair of Young Eagles. Previous Chairmen include co-chairs Sully Sullenberger & Jeff Skiles of US Air Flight 1549 fame, Chuck Yeager, Harrison Ford and the late Cliff Robertson.

Suppose I told you I could get your child to enthusiastically study geography, math, physics, chemistry and psychology. After you had my head examined, would you be interested? Oh, and as a bonus I can get him or her to hang out with highly motivated, well-educated older people who are good role models because they don’t do drugs or spray graffiti, and they have a great work ethic.
 – Rod Machado

Get your kid involved in Aviation and they won't have time or money for drugs!

How do you plan on igniting the passion for aviation in someone this year?

Marilyn Dash
Ruby Red Racing
The Pylon Place