Experimental aircraft owners exposed a group of Boy Scouts to the marvels of flight on Saturday at Rome’s Richard B. Russell Regional Airport.
Ten members of Troop 565 out of Marietta camped out at the airport this weekend and got to fly as part of the Rome Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program.
“It was a really good experience,” said Bryce Liang, 15, as he hopped out of Ken Hunt’s Super Decathlon aircraft, an aerobatic plane.
Liang said Hunt, of Chattanooga, Tennessee, took him on a 20-minute flight in the direction of Bartow County.
“I got to see fish traps in the river that were created by Native Americans centuries ago,” Liang said. “That was really cool.”
Hunt said he allowed Liang to take the stick for a while.
“He did a great job, held it level and kept it straight,” Hunt said.
Albert Wu, 13, was the first scout to go up Saturday and was virtually speechless when he returned to the ground and got his certificate for participating in the program. He did say he had a good time and would like to do it again, but wasn’t really interested in becoming a pilot one day.
The EAA Chapter 709 has conducted youth flights for many years, introducing youngsters to experiences in the sky. This was the third year the Rome chapter, which includes pilots from Chattanooga to Atlanta and beyond, has partnered with the Marietta troop.
Rex Puckett, of Silver Creek, is a longtime leader of the Rome EAA. He said that when the group started the Young Eagles program about 20 years ago, the goal was to get a million young people into the air.
“Now we’re over 2 million,” he said. “The whole thing is to build interest in aviation in young people.”
The EAA has a hangar and base of operations on the east side of the airport with an entrance off Old Dalton Road.
Scott Fisher has organized the event for the troop each of the past three years.
“The kids love it so we keep coming back,” he said.
The project helps the Scouts earn their aviation badge.
“They have to make the flight, do pre-inspection and make a map of the trip,” Fisher said.
Fisher said he made contact with the EAA after a trip to Rome with his son when he was in the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. The EAA was having an event on those occasions and Fisher connected with Puckett, and the Cobb County Scouts have made the trip each year since then.
The scouts proved themselves to be pretty fearless since the EAA requirements are that more than 50 percent of the aircraft has to be assembled by the owner to be called an experimental plane.
Puckett finished his kit-built RV-8 plane in 2008 and now has about 600 hours of flight time on it.
“I was going to do it the first year I retired, and three years later, I finally got it done,” he said. “I built it because you can get more performance for the dollar by building your own airplane. I might even think about doing another one.”