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EAA Chapter 579 Reaches Young Eagles Milestone

Aurora, Illinois Chapter Flies 20,000 Young Eagles

For the last three-decades, Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 579 has been among the most active in the Association’s Young Eagles program. On 23 September 2023, the Aurora, Illinois-based Chapter surpassed twenty-THOUSAND Young Eagles flown, thereby becoming, ostensibly, the first EAA chapter to reach the mark.

The Young Eagles rally during which the record-setting flight was made was attended by Tim Dahnke and Chris Gauger from the EAA’s Oshkosh, Wisconsin headquarters. The pair presented Chapter 579 and its president, Mikek Baer, a plaque and banner commemorating the achievement.

Mr. Baer addressed the assemblage, stating: “I want to thank the hundreds of volunteers who, over the past thirty-years, helped EAA Chapter 579 reach our historic milestone of twenty-thousand Young Eagles flown. A big thanks to the 41 chapter volunteers here today, along with our friends at REVV Aviation, the staff in the Aurora tower, and our guests from EAA HQ who helped share the magic of flight with 152 very happy Young Eagles and their families.”

In EAA parlance, Young Eagles are children, ages 8 to 17, who are taken aloft in the personal aircraft of EAA members that they may experience the joys and wonders of flight—often for the first time in their young lives. The flights are most often round-robin affairs, departing from and returning to the same local airport. Young Eagles are accompanied by their parents or guardians, who take part in airport tours and pre-and-post-flight procedures and briefings. These discovery flights are offered free of charge by local EAA chapters chartered by the Oshkosh, Wisconsin-based EAA National parent organization.

Worldwide, EAA chapters number in excess of nine-hundred, the majority of which are based in the United States, typically on or near secondary or regional airfields the likes of Aurora Municipal Airport (AUZ). In some cases, however, Young Eagle flights have launched from remote grass runways.

The Young Eagle program exists for purpose of inspiring young people to cultivate interests in aviation—perhaps even to aspire to careers in the pilot, air traffic control, or aerospace engineering fields. Neither textbooks, films, video-games, nor virtual-reality simulations can captivate the young soul, spark the evolving imagination, or stoke the nascent passions for freedom and adventure quite so powerfully and viscerally as the experience of actual flight in a light aircraft.

Young Eagle sorties most often span twenty-to-thirty minutes. In some cases, youngsters are flown over their neighborhoods, homes, or schools. In instances in which 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 adventures aloft.

Upon landing, 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 their local EAA chapters hold Young Eagle Rallies.

Parties interested in learning more about the EAA’s Young Eagle program are invited to visit www.youngeagles.org

FMI: www.eaa.org

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