HARBOR SPRINGS — If your child has never experienced the thrill of flying, the Young Eagles will offer a unique opportunity to try it on Saturday, June 16.
In conjunction with local chapter 1087 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, the Young Eagles and several volunteer pilots will provide free airplane rides from 9 a.m.-noon for children ages 8-17 at the Harbor Springs Airport main terminal.
“We’ll have seven airplanes and we’ll take three each in a plane and one plane can take five,” said Bill Meyer, event coordinator. “So the more, the merrier. We will fly until everyone gets a ride. We will not turn anyone away.”
The EAA Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested youth the opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane. Volunteers who participate in the Young Eagles program are local members of EAA who volunteer their time and aircraft to make flights possible.
“It’s all volunteers and it’s all free,” Meyer said. “We’re not allowed to take any compensation at all. We have a lot of volunteers that help on the ground.”
Meyer said each ride will take about 30 to 40 minutes, which includes a preflight walk-around, inspection and look at the mechanical aspects of the plane.
“It’s Father’s Day weekend and there’s also an air show this weekend in Gaylord,” Meyer said. “We’re hoping to draw a good crowd. The air show will be ongoing in the afternoon so there’s still time to do both.”
After each participant completes their flight, they will receive a Young Eagles logbook with a code to activate a free EAA student membership. The membership unlocks opportunities and resources for youth to participate in the world of flying, including free access to a learn to fly course, first flight lesson and reimbursement after passing the FAA knowledge exam (which costs $165).
“We give them a lot of information and a logbook,” Meyer said. “The primary reason for doing this is to get young people who might be interested.”
Since its inception in 1992, Young Eagles program pilots — which numbers more than 42,000 — have flown more than 2 million kids.
“It’s something free and neat to do on a Saturday,” Meyer said. “If mom and dad are looking for something to do with their kids Saturday morning, they’re more than welcome.”