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EAA Volunteer Pilot Celebrates Flying 10,000 Young Eagles

Oshkosh Resident Fred Stadler Recognized

Longtime EAA Chapter 252 member and volunteer-pilot Fred Stadler of Oshkosh, Wisconsin has become the first individual to fly ten-THOUSAND young people free of charge under the auspices of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Young Eagles program.

Mr. Stadler, whose involvement in the Young Eagles initiative dates back to the year 2000, made the milestone flight—a round-robin sortie from the EAA Aviation Museum’s Pioneer Airport (WS17)—on 26 August 2023.

The EAA Young Eagles program itself began in 1992 when EAA-member pilots attending the Association’s yearly AirVenture fly-in volunteered their aircraft and time to fly kids ages 8-17 for purpose of introducing future generations to the myriad wonders, sublime beauty, and unique freedom of flight. In the years since, upwards of fifty-thousand volunteer pilots have flown in excess of 2.3-million Young Eagles.

EAA CEO and chairman Jack J. Pelton stated: “Fred’s remarkable accomplishment is indicative of the dedication of our Young Eagles volunteers to make a difference and build the future of flight. There are so many young pilots today who got their start when an EAA-member pilot provided that first flight, igniting a spark that became a career for many. Fred and all those EAA members have earned our congratulations and sincere thanks for their efforts, along with a call for other aviators to join us in flying Young Eagles.”

Many of Mr. Stadler’s Young Eagles flights have been operated from the EAA Aviation Museum’s Pioneer Airport, a seasonal facility that re-creates the feel of a 1930s airfield. Young people visiting the museum during the Pioneer Airport season are eligible to receive free Young Eagles flights—with parental permission, of course.

In addition to his efforts on behalf of the Young Eagles program, Mr. Stadler has flown the Pioneer Airport’s Travel Air and Swallow biplanes, thereby becoming the institution’s de facto historian on those aircraft. Moreover, Stadler volunteers extensively in the North 40 aircraft camping area during the EAA’s yearly AirVenture events.

In 2006, Stadler and his late wife, Carol, received EAA’s Henry Kimberly Spirit of Leadership Award in recognition of the pair’s extensive and selfless volunteer work.

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 EAA aviation youth programs.

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 certain EAA aviation youth programs are eligible to compete for an annual $11,000 Ray Aviation Scholarship applicable to flight-training at the flight-school of their choice.

FMI: www.eaa.org, www.youngeagles.org

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