Written by: Johnathan Nguyen (SRHV Volunteer & Media Outreach Team Member)
When you were little, have you had an experience that inspired you to chase a new goal? Since 1992, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has given youth ages 8-17 free first rides in an airplane. It's the only program designed to introduce kids to the aviation world, and EAA Chapter 62 brought the experience to the Reid-Hillview Airport. Over 8,000 young people have participated in the Young Eagles program at Reid-Hillview.
The flight around the local area lasts about 20 minutes per session. The pilots take the opportunity to explain the basics of aerodynamics and how planes work. During the experience, the young, pilots-to-be, are even allowed to grab the controls and practice turning the airplane under careful supervision. The event finishes with a presentation of a First Flight Certificate signed by the pilot and the participant.
Despite potential rainy weather, 55 children got to experience recreational flying first-hand while family members eagerly watched. Also available were aircraft on display that kids and parents could sit in, explore, and ask questions about aviation to any of the volunteers. Many parents were stunned to find out that EAA offers free Student Memberships for kids after completing their Young Eagle Flight and can take advantage of the EAA AeroEducate program, free Private Pilot Ground School, and scholarship opportunities.
The Reid-Hillview Airport is a valuable educational resource for youth programs aimed at aviation careers and advancements. In addition to the EAA Young Eagles Program, Squadron 36 of the Civil Air Patrol hosts a Cadet Squadron that integrates their emergency services and aerospace education programs with youth.