Dawn Hodson MOUNTAIN DEMOCRAT
Fly like an Eagle — Hangtown Pilots Share Their Wings
April 29, 2019
  • Share
  • If you’ve ever dreamed of becoming a pilot but didn’t know how to go about it, a local group of flying enthusiasts have the ticket in the form of a free training session on the topic.

    Hosted by the local Hangtown Chapter 512 of the Experimental Aircraft Association, these flying aces are looking for the next generation of would-be pilots and will be hosting a morning training session on Saturday, May 18 on what it takes to become one at the Placerville Airport.

    Called the Flying Start Program, this is the first time this chapter has hosted the program.

    May 18 was picked as the day to hold the training session because it’s EAA’s national learn to fly day.

    Over the course of about an hour and a half, participants will learn everything they will need to know about the requirements to become a private pilot according to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

    Included will be information on how to fulfill those requirements and what resources are available so people can get their pilot’s license — including ground school and test facility locations, local flight school locations, contact information for flight instructors, where to rent a plane, as well as the estimated cost of becoming a pilot.

    Following the presentation, a free introductory flight with an EAA member in his/her airplane will be offered. Potential, pilots-in-the-making will go up with real pilots for a 20-to 30-minute demonstration flight, including some hands-on flying experience.

    With a mission of growing participation in aviation, Jim Wilson, who is vice president of the local EAA chapter, said the national organization was founded some 66 years ago and now has almost 900 chapters worldwide and 40,000 members. The national organization also hosts an annual convention that is the largest air show of general aviation in the world.

    Hangtown Chapter 512 was founded in 1974 and now has about 50 members.

    Wilson said the reason for the training session is to allow club members to share their passion for flying. He noted that Boeing Aircraft has predicted there will be a need for more than half a million new commercial pilots and nearly 600,000 maintenance technicians over the next 20 years. Becoming a pilot can either be an interesting and well-paying career or just a thrilling hobby.

    Aside from the planned training session, the Hangtown Chapter 512 engages in a variety of other activities throughout the year.

    The first Saturday of each month — April through October — the group holds a pancake breakfast in their airport hanger. It’s open to the public and Wilson said they get pilots who fly in from all over the state to join them. At $6 a head it’s a real deal and includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, fruit, coffee or tea and orange juice. Kids aged 12 years and younger are half price.

    The group also has programs for adults and youngsters to experience and thrill of flying a plane.

    Eagle Flights is a free, introductory flight experience and informal mentoring program designed to welcome and encourage adults 18 and older who want to discover flying but don’t know how or where to start. It begins with getting the chance to fly with a local EAA member pilot and learn what it takes to become a pilot.

    The Young Eagles program is held two days a year and provides a free plane ride to children aged 8-17 with the idea being to inspire kids to consider becoming a pilot or to work in the field of aviation in some capacity. The Young Eagles program has flown over 2 million kids with the help of EAA’s network of volunteer pilots and ground volunteers, according to the EAA.

    Chapter 512 also hosts an annual low-cost private pilot ground school. The class covers the academic portion of what is needed to obtain a private pilot’s license such as the basic FAA rules, airplane engines, navigation and weather. Successful completion qualifies someone to take the FAA private pilot written examination.

    In addition, the local chapter has a scholarship fund that is awarded to an El Dorado County resident to aid in furthering his or her aviation career.

    To register for the May 18 class email eaa512pvf@gmail.com or register online with EAA Chapter 512 at 512.eaachapter.org.

    The class is limited to the first 25 people who register with extras put on a waiting list. Those sincerely interested in becoming a pilot are encouraged to attend.

    The program will begin at 8 a.m. and go to about 9:30 a.m. at the Placerville Airport followed by the demonstration flights. The airport is at 3501 Airport Road in Placerville.

    So if you’ve ever thought about becoming a pilot, sign up now and plan on attending. It’s time to earn those wings.