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Sat, Jun 03, 2023

EAA Chapter 534 Hosts Flying Start Event

Fostering Flying in the Sunshine State

The EAA’s Mid-Florida Chapter 534 has been busy of late. To further the EAA’s stated mission of promoting the Spirit of Aviation, the chapter, in October 2022, hosted a fly-in/drive-in pancake breakfast at its hangar on Leesburg, Florida’s Leesburg International Airport (LEE).

In April 2023, Chapter 534 hosted a Young Eagles event, at which ten local youths enjoyed airplane flights—some for the first time in their lives.

On 27 May 2023, EAA Chapter 534 hosted a Flying Start event, at which eight prospective adult student pilots were schooled in the particulars of the at-once arduous and rewarding business of earning an FAA Private Pilot Certificate.

The EAA’s Flying Start initiative is a chapter-hosted program that welcomes, inspires, and educates aspiring pilots—ages 18 and older—vis-à-vis the didactic, practical, and regulatory conventions by which non-fliers are fashioned into licensed aviators.

The program comprises an EAA-prepared PowerPoint presentation, which hosting chapters supplement with information pertaining to local flight-training resources. The event culminates in a free introductory Eagle Flight under the auspices of EAA volunteer mentor pilots.

Chapter 534’s 27 May Flying Start hootenanny got underway with chapter president Mike Hage welcoming guests and displaying a banner with which the chapter was presented upon its winning EAA’s 2022 Gold Award. Mr. Hage informed the eight prospective pilots their participation in the Flying Start program automatically earned them six free months of EAA National membership. What’s more, the body of Chapter 534’s members voted unanimously to grant six months of free chapter membership to the individuals participating in the Flying Start event.

Chapter 534 vice-president and Light Sport Certified Flight Instructor John Weber moderated the day’s activities, distributing materials germane to the program and making the compulsory PowerPoint and video presentations.

Mr. Weber’s address was followed by a series of short talks given by Chapter 534 member-pilots Chloe Kadletz, and Mark Peebles; the latter, a retired corporate pilot, owns and flies a beautifully-restored 1946 Fairchild in which he performed a demonstration flight for the enjoyment of the event’s attendees.

The eight nascent pilots were individually taken aloft by Chapter 534 member-pilots who donated their time, aircraft, expertise, and fuel-costs to the Flying Start endeavor. The introductory thirty-minute flights were followed by a comprehensive group debrief.

To foster interest in aviation and inspire the pursuit of pilot certification, the EAA proudly sustains two free flight programs: Young Eagles for persons aged 8 to 17, and Eagle flights for adults 18-years and older.

Young Eagle flights most often span twenty to thirty minutes. In some cases, youngsters are flown over their neighborhoods, homes, or schools. In such instances as an aircraft is equipped with dual-controls, EAA pilots may, at their discretion, offer Young Eagles the opportunity to hand-fly for short periods of time. Young people amenable to taking the controls—which is to say, most of them—are instructed in the rudiments of powered flight by their EAA pilots. There is little a neophyte pilot can do to seriously imperil an aircraft safely at altitude and under the command of a certificated pilot.

A virtual constant of Young Eagle flights is the state of unbridled excitement and giddy triumph in which kids return to the ground—assailing their parents with enthusiastically-told tales of their experiences aloft.

Upon the completion of a flight, Young Eagles receive an official aviator’s logbook and a certificate commemorating the experience—both signed by the pilot under whose auspices they flew. Many children enjoy the experience to such a degree that they become regulars, showing up eagerly every time a local EAA chapter holds a Young Eagle Rally. Such youngsters are often excellent candidates for aviation youth programs—such as EAA Chapter 534’s Squadron 534.

In addition to the aforementioned logbook and certificate, kids who take part in Young Eagle flights receive, free of charge, a Sporty’s [Pilot Shop] online Learn to Fly course and a free flight lesson. Also, they receive free access to over three-hundred science and technology museums and student memberships to the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

Young Eagles who become active in Chapter 534’s aviation youth program are eligible to compete for an annual $11,000 Ray Aviation Scholarship applicable to flight-training at the flight-school of their choice.

To date EAA Chapter 534 has awarded four Ray Scholarships and has been qualified by EAA National to award another such scholarship in 2023.

Excepting June and August, EAA Chapter 534 hosts Young Eagle Rallies monthly.

FMI: www.eaa.org


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