The Mt. Pleasant Experimental Aviation Association (EAA) introduced the next generation to the world of aviation with their Young Eagles event.
The youth aviation experience took place at the Mt. Pleasant Municipal Airport, located at 5453 E. Airport Road, on Saturday. This year, 63 youths between the ages of eight and 17 were taught about planes, their uses and even how to fly one at the event, according to EAA Treasurer Butch Ballauer.
“The event is something that gets kids outside and learning by working with their hands,” he said. “It’s not often that these kids have the chance to work with a plane.”
Each youth teamed up with one of seven pilots to learn about plane controls and how they affect the plane from the outside. The teams then took to the skies to learn about how to control the plane while it was in the air.
The instructors showed them several techniques, such as taking off, turning and landing the plane, according to Ballauer. First time pilot Ian Duke said that he had fun learning how to control the plane.
“I actually ended up flying over my house,” he said. “My favorite part of my trip was learning the tricks, like making the plane go up and moving it around.”
This year’s turnout was more than usual, as the association would usually have 50 to 60 youths sign up for the Young Eagles event, according to Ballauer. He also said that it took a bit for the pilots to keep up with the turnout, but he expects around nine pilots for the next Young Eagle day.
“We have one our younger associates who is on track to get his pilots license,” Ballauer said. “If that goes well, we’ll have another pilot for Young Eagles.”
The event started in 1992 as an effort to get the next generation interested in aviation and create the next generation of pilots, according to Ballauer. Since its start, over 1000 youths were taught the basics of flying a plane.
The Young Eagles event has become a staple for the EAA across their several chapters around the country, as this weekend is considered International Young Eagle Weekend.
“We have some members that are getting up there in age,” Ballauer said. “We want to teach what we know to the younger folks and have them impart that knowledge to future generations.”
With this event, Ballauer hopes to get some of the attendees interested in the Mt. Pleasant EAA chapter’s youth program, where young aviation enthusiasts learn more about planes and how they work in today’s world. The group is also working on creating their own plane, which is planned to be finished within the next few years, according to Ballauer.
“I had a few kids from today want to come down to the youth group meeting,” he said. “It’s great to see these young folks want to learn more about aviation.”
The EAA is an international aviation group that boasts over 200,000 members with around 1,000 chapters worldwide. The Mt. Pleasant EAA chapter is made up of over 30 residents who spend their time flying, creating and maintaining planes.
Those who are interested in the chapter’s youth program or want more information can visit the Mt. Pleasant EAA’s Facebook page or visit www.907.eaachapter.org.