When Seth Boice heard of the Young Eagles event at the Turlock Municipal Airport, he was excited. The Hughson 7th grader had always wanted to see the inside of an airplane, and on Saturday he not only learned what all the buttons and knobs in a single engine aircraft do, he was able to soar above the skies of Turlock.
Boice was one of over 100 youth who got a hands-on experience with flying thanks to the 15 pilots who volunteered their time and planes at the event hosted by the Turlock Regional Aviation Association and sponsored by the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Since 1992, more than 1.9 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight from EAA’s network of volunteer pilots. The program offers more than just a free flight, however. Each volunteer pilot completes a preflight inspection with the young passenger, explaining everything about the plane in the process. The Young Eagle also gets a lesson on the operation of the aircraft, and sometimes is allowed to take the controls for awhile.
According to EAA, the program has been the start of many youths’ journey to becoming a pilot, aircraft mechanic, air traffic controller, or many other aeronautical career possibilities.
For Modesto brothers Nicolae and Cristian Vaughn, Saturday’s Young Eagles event was a dream come true.
“We love airplanes and dream of being pilots,” said Nicolae Vaughn.
This was the second year in a row that the Young Eagles program was held at the Turlock Airport, after being discontinued for many years, said TRAA President Todd Smith.
“It’s our hope we can do it every year,” said Smith.
Smith said Saturday’s event was very successful and that it not only exposed many children to flying but it also highlighted the city’s airport.
The Turlock Municipal Airport is located approximately 9 miles east of the city along East Avenue at Newport Road. From 1942 to 1945 it was an Army Air Training Base injunction with the Castle Air Force Base where the student pilots were housed. In July 1947, the airport property was deeded to City of Turlock. The City owns the airport and the Turlock Regional Aviation Association runs it.