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EAA Air Academy Works To Fill The Pipeline With New Pilots

By Tom Woodward

EAA is an educational organization especially when young people are concerned. EAA, along with other professional organizations, realize that the future of aviation is unsustainable if we can’t fill the pipeline with future pilot, mechanics and aviation enthusiasts.

Nearly 25 years ago EAA started the Young Eagle program with such a goal. The young Eagle program gives aircraft rides to 8-17 year olds who may not otherwise have an opportunity to fly in a light aircraft. To a slightly lessor but equally enthusiastic extent Kidventure at Oshkosh attempts to draw in even younger future aviators with programs suitable to their age group.

One of the little known programs, to the average attendee, is the EAA Air Academy. The EAA Air Academy provides an experience that young people can find nowhere else. It is designed to introduce young people ages 12-18 to the aviation world. Campers are engaged through a variety of hands-on activities while staying at the EAA Air Academy Lodge in Oshkosh. Experienced aviation instructors help them delve into flight through studies, hands-on demonstrations, flight simulation, and other exciting activities. There are three programs that are age dependent, Young Eagle camp, Basic Camp and Advanced Camp. Advance camp is for ages 17 and 18 and gives ground and introductory flight instruction. It is a week long camp and dovetails on both the beginning and end of Oshkosh, so the camper has a day or so to experience the airshow.

I had the pleasure to interview one of the campers and solicited his impressions of the experience. Tyler Rau is from Granbury, Texas and is the son of Michael and Louise Willette, Michael is a member of EAA Chapter 983, The Brazos Valley Bunch, at Pecan Plantation. Chapter 983, for the last several years, has provided a scholarship and transportation to selected individuals who have shown interest and are selected through an application process. Tyler told me that prior to coming to the Air Academy he had a general interest in becoming an engineer but wasn’t sure what discipline to pursue. Michael’s father is prominent in an educational program in which he launches and tracts weather balloons and collects the data for study. It was natural the Tyler would have some interest but to what degree he wasn’t sure.

Upon arriving at Air Academy he was first treated to a ride in EAA’s  Cessna Skycatcher. He was allowed to take the control and do some advanced maneuvers such as stalls and a zero G demonstration. For the remainder of the week he bunked with other boys his age from different parts of the country whom had similar interest. They were introduced to and practiced working with different mediums, such as metal, welding, composite and wood. Each discipline, when completed, produced a project that he could take home. With wood they build a wing rib. A small metal box was fabricated by learning the art of riveting, bending and cutting of the metal.

Tyler spend a lot of time with one of the mentors, Mr. Brian Lee, who was a Boeing engineer in his private life. He spoke with Tyler about the opportunities available in the aviation industry.
After a week of total immersion Tyler was bubbling with enthusiasm. He told me that he narrowed his choice down to either a Mechanical or Aeronautical Engineer.

When he returns home he is excited to give a presentation to his home EAA chapter at their August meeting.

(Staff Photo. Tyler Rau with his dad and mom Michael and Louise. Other image from file)

FMI: www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-education-and-resources/eaa-youth-education/eaa-aviation-and-flight-summer-camps/eaa-air-academy/eaa-air-academy-advanced-camp



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