CADILLAC — Experienced pilots taught groups of young aviation enthusiasts everything they needed to know about flying from the ground up Saturday at the Wexford County Airport.
The local chapter of the Experimental Aviation Association gave young people a chance to learn how to fly while offering free airplane rides at the airport. Starting at 9 a.m., young people, aged 8 to 17, received a free ride. The trip included discussions on flight safety, how an airplane flies and navigation information.
Brian Knoth, a resident of Manton, brought his three children to the airport Saturday morning to learn about flying. Knoth said his father was a pilot, and he has many memories of being in the air. He said that flying has become a family tradition over the years, and the weekend flights were a great way to continue that tradition.
“This gives children the joy of flying so that they don’t become fearful of being in the air,” Knoth said.
Nikolas Kruger, 12 and his younger brother Elijah, 8, took a ride aboard an airplane early Saturday morning.
Nikolas said the love of airplanes he developed the last two years was first started while he was playing a game called “Kerbal Space Program.” Kerbal Space Program is a game that allows players to create and manage their own space program. During the game, players build and fly spacecrafts.
“I really enjoy learning about the engineering of airplanes, spacecrafts and rockets,” Nikolas said. “But this was the first time I have ever flown in a plane.”
Elijah and Nikolas said the free flights have inspired them both to one day become pilots.
Both brothers received a dated certificate signed by a pilot. Their names were also added to the EAA Young Eagles Logbook, the world’s largest logbook.
The Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give young people ages 8 to 17 an opportunity to fly in a general aviation airplane.
Larry Collins, Young Eagle coordinator for EAA chapter No. 678, said the most important lesson pilots hope to encourage young people to remember is to be safe. Collins said it’s also about getting young people confident in the cockpit.
“I want my young eagles to know that flying is really not too complicated. Many of my young eagles fly with me and take the controls and learn that flying can be pretty fun,” Collins said.
Since its start, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have taken a flight through the Young Eagles program. Young Eagles have been registered in more than 90 different countries and have been flown by more than 42,000 volunteer pilots.