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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Young aviation enthusiasts take flight at EAA event

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Young Eagle Amalie Weaver gets ready for takeoff with EAA pilot Lee Helfer. She got the front seat she wanted.

A dozen young aviation enthusiasts got a taste of the wild blue yonder on Saturday at Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534’s Young Eagles Rally at Leesburg International Airport.

EAA Chapter 534 provided six fixed-wing, single engine aircraft and pilots to fly 12 prospective Young Eagles, who are 8 to 17 years old and have an interest in flying in small general aviation aircraft. For many of them it was their first flight in any aircraft.

The chapter also had a dozen members available to do the paperwork, escort people safely back and forth to the ramp and explain the projects going on in the EAA hangar.

Aranya Alexander gets ready to take off with EAA pilot Jim Waymire.

The EAA pilots provide their own private planes, fuel, and their time to ensure that their Young Eagle crew members have an enjoyable flying experience. There is never any charge for this.

The motivation behind doing this is to find and inspire young people to the wonder of flight in the hope that one day they will become licensed private pilots or kindle a lifetime interest in some aspect of aerospace.

Young Eagle Mason McClintock gets another 30 minutes to add to his EAA log book. He flew with John Weber, Chapter 534 VP and Light Sport Certified Flight Instructor.

It is hoped that they will select a vocation either as a pilot or aircraft mechanic when it is time for them to seek employment, as there is currently a need for both pilots and mechanics because the populations in both fields have been subject to retirements and aging out. This means when today’s young people come of age, the aviation industry and aerospace will be available to provide interesting, lucrative jobs.

It may also be that some of them may end up in other gainful employment but just want to enjoy the freedom of flight in their own aircraft.

Llara Weaver, mother of Amalie with EAA Pilot Lee Helfer.

There are other free perks available to Young Eagles such as a free Sporty’s online Learn to Fly course, which will help them pass the Federal Aviation Administration’s written exam. This is necessary for a private pilot’s license. EAA will pay for the exam if they pass it successfully and give them a stipend for their first flying lesson at the flying school of their choice.

On Saturday, there were two Young Eagles who at a young age demonstrated a burning interest in aviation.

The first was Amalie Weaver, a 10-year-old young lady who appeared at the airport with her mother Llara for the second time. The first time it was noticed she went out of her way to introduce herself to several of the pilots and seemed to pay close attention to what was going on.

EAA Chapter 534 Student Pilot, Luke Nunez, gives a pre flight instruction to the Young Eagles on a Light Sport Kit Fox. Luke is waiting for a date to take his check ride, the last step before earning a Private Pilot License.

Her mother, Llara, said her daughter had told her she wanted to fly in one of the front seats so she could get a chance to actually fly the plane. She was successful in doing that in Lee Helfer’s plane. Amalie’s mother said this flying interest is already so strong they are starting to look into buying an aircraft when she turns 16.

The second Young Eagle with this dream is Mason McClintock age 12. He is a member of the EAA Chapter 534 aviation youth group, Squadron 534.

Mason already has 9 hours of flight time in his EAA log book, has done riveting on one of the chapter’s building projects and has learned to apply fabric to other planes. He is also a member of the local Civil Air Patrol.  He attends all the meetings of the chapter that he can when he is not in school and these are usually accompanied by his mother who strongly supports his interest.

EAA Chapter 534 members Frank McCutcheon and Stan Carpenter were the air marshals on the ramp directing plane traffic.

Also working on the Young Eagles rally were two Ray Aviation Scholarship recipients, Rosie Rivera and Luke Nunez. The scholarship gave them the financial help they needed to complete their flight training.

Rosie started with the chapter a few years ago as a Young Eagle and today she flew two Young Eagles as pilot in command. Her ultimate flying goal is to become a missionary pilot. Luke worked on the computer, did the group preflight on the Kit Fox for the Young Eagles and helped direct aircraft movement on the ramp. Luke is about ready to complete his flight training. He has completed his cross-country flights and is waiting for his check ride. He is already employed by SunAir helping to park planes on the airport ramp. His ultimate goal is to become an airline pilot.

Young Eagles Savine Alexander and Gabriel Carrasquillo fly with EAA Chapter 534 pilot Rosie Revira. Rosie was a Ray scholarship recipient who got her start as a Young Eagle. Today she is PIC, pilot in command.

Both Rosie and Luke, who started as Young Eagles, got heavily involved with the Squadron 534 aviation youth program and they were recognized by the chapter membership as having that burning desire to learn to fly and earned their Ray Aviation Scholarships.

EAA Chapter 534 works hard to find young people like Rosie, Luke, Mason, and Amalia to help them achieve their aviation dreams.

For more information about the national EAA, visit www.eaa.org. You can learn more about EAA Chapter 534 at www.eaachapter534.org.


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