Amateur pilots belonging to the Hawk Road Flyers, a local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter, gave children enrolled in Big Brothers Big Sister of Nodaway County, a youth mentoring organization, the chance to see Maryville from above on Saturday morning.
“The EAA decided that they wanted to get more kids involved in aviation, so they decided to start doing the Young Eagle flights,” said Phillip Poynter, who coordinates the program locally. “It’s a free flight for kids ages 8 to 17, and the idea is to get them behind the wheel and let them try flying.”
Big Brothers Big Sisters “Littles” and their “Bigs” showed up at Northwest Missouri Regional Airport at 9 a.m. Saturday ready to spread their wings and learn a little about aviation while actually getting to go aloft.
“I was excited that they chose Big Brothers Big Sisters for this opportunity,” said BBBS Program Director Lynette Harbin. “We had many kids participate that had never been up in a small plane before.”
Young Eagles events are offered at no cost, and Poynter said the program is a fun, safe way for children to learn about aviation.
“It’s a very controlled experience,” he said. “These pilots are experienced, and we’ll only do these flights on great weather days. We won’t try to do it on bad days.”
Poynter taught brief aviation classes to the children on Saturday, while five other local pilots took them up for 20-minute flights around Maryville and Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
“We have such an amazing community in Maryville, and we have so many people that are so giving,” Harbin said.
“I think that speaks for the Hawk Road Flyers and the pilots. They are utilizing their planes, their fuel, and their time to give back to these kids and this program. I think it’s pretty amazing.”