ELKO — Thirty-seven homeschool students, aged 8-17, eagerly lined up on a Saturday for a chance to fly over their hometown with the Young Eagles program.
“We went over South Fork,” said 16-year-old Bethany Werner. “So we saw the reservoir in South Fork, then we came back around and flew over Spring Creek a little bit. You could see all of Spring Creek basically … and then you came back around back to the airport.”
She and three of her siblings participated in the event.
“They had a field trip the day before,” Bethany said. She was unable to attend the trip on Friday, but three of her eight siblings did: Evan, Felicity and Gideon.
“That was just a tour of the airport,” Evan said. “They showed us the fire truck, a plane and a helicopter.”
Members of the Truckee-Tahoe Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association flew to Elko for Oct. 26 program, donating their time, money and resources to fly the students.
“Two or three flew at a time,” Bethany’s mother Susan Werner said. “They had four different time slots with 10 kids each, I think, so it was a big group.”
Susan heard about the event through a Facebook group. The Northern Nevada Homeschool Co-op is a private group for homeschool families in the area.
“Someone’ll set up a field trip,” Susan said. “Or someone’ll say this thing is going on in town.”
This particular event was spearheaded by Kara Shannon. She set up the event even though her children are too young to participate.
“All the pilots came here from Truckee and they donated their time. And it was awesome,” Susan Werner said.
After their flight, each participant received a certificate and a flight logbook for future use.
Bethany, who has also flown in a commercial flight, preferred this experience.
“I like the little ones ’cause you have more of a view. I got the window seat when I went in the commercial airplane but you can only see out that side. The little planes have windows on all sides.”
“It’s fun to look out and see the rivers,” she added. “They look so cool and twisty.”
Bethany found herself thinking about the possibility of becoming a pilot.
“The guy was telling us that if you wanted to learn to fly you’re able to take a course and take a written test and then take a flying test and you’re able to get your pilot’s license at 16.”
Every Young Eagle is given the opportunity to continue learning about aviation through the EAA Student Membership. The membership has many benefits, including access to online lessons, admission to museums and one free flight lesson with completion of the online course.
Since 1992, more than two million Young Eagles have flown in this program. Young Eagles can be found in more than 90 countries and have been flown by more than 42,000 volunteer pilots. These pilots donate their time with the desire to share their passion in the hopes of sparking interest in aviation. Each participant received a unique code to activate their free EAA student membership.
The homeschoolers thanked Jim Foster of Elko Regional Airport, Mountain West Aviation, as well as the volunteers from EAA chapter 1073: Tom and Lynn Meadows, Vince and Susan Bruno, and Michael Golden.
Anyone interested in scheduling a Young Eagles event may contact Tom Meadows at 530-587-7281 or find more information at www.youngeagles.org.