On Saturday morning, kids of all ages were putting their pilot skills to the test at the Chippewa Valley Regional Airport.
There were kids as young as 8-years old flying planes high in the sky, earning their Young Eagles flying certificates.
The Annual Fall Chili Feed, which took place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., was put on by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). The group gets together on the second Thursday of each month, and twice a year, put on this event where youth can learn about flying.
“I got to drive it,” 12-year old Parker Olson of Chippewa Falls said. “We saw our house and the football players.”
His 16-year old sister Shelby Olson was a bit skeptical of her brother’s flying skills.
“He kept taking us really high,” she said.
Along with the fun comes an important learning opportunity for youngsters.
“It’s a teaching mechanism,” EAA member Guy Wood said. “There is no academic problem that can’t be explained by using an airplane as an example. If they are interested in flying, it can make learning fun.”
Wood and others are concerned with the state of flying today.
“There aren’t enough trained pilots anymore,” Wood said. “The insurance is expensive, the fuel is expensive and with the interstates we have today, the need for flying has died down.”
More than 30 kids took to the sky in planes that have been meticulously cared for by the EAA. Some of the planes are home built, and some have been restored. They even have a plane from 1947.
Each year, the planes must submit to a check by a licensed mechanic, so they are always in tip-top shape.