By Dee Gretzler, EAA 1445452
Expected thunderstorms threatened to ground the Young Eagles event our chapter, EAA Chapter 1551 of Apopka, Florida, had planned for June 11, this year’s date for International Young Eagles Day.
“It looks like we have a 50/50 shot that the weather will cooperate for our event,” read the post on Chapter 1551’s Facebook page, but it was decided to hold the event as planned. An earlier start time and the hopes of 11 Young Eagles won over the threatening sky.
Nervous parents and excited children gathered at 7:30 a.m. to get ahead of the weather. Lance Legan, EAA 815219, Chapter 1551’s Young Eagles coordinator, began the event with an easy-to-understand lecture on basic physics and its application in aerodynamics. Armed with this knowledge, eight girls from the Glorious Hands Inc. Girls Mentoring Academy and three of their brothers paired up with EAA chapter pilots who volunteered their airplanes, time, and gas to share their love of flying.
Under scattered clouds and light winds, eight airplanes lined the taxiway bound for 20-minute flights around Lake Apopka. Each Young Eagle was offered the chance to control his or her airplane under the watchful eyes of the pilot.
“It was fun!” enthused 15-year-old Marlina Curtis. “I held my altitude,” 16-year-old Heaven Rackston proudly proclaimed. Both girls laughed as they tried out their newly acquired aviation lingo and considered becoming pilots.
Many children haven’t flown at all in their lives, much less in a two- or four-seat airplane that weighs less than most cars. FAA regulations require that a person be at least 17 years old to hold a private pilot certificate, but there’s more to aviation than being a pilot.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for kids to see what’s out there in the world of aviation,” one father commented. Another father, who develops flight simulators and trains pilots, brought his three children to the local event. “When will I be old enough?” his youngest daughter asked wistfully.
Many jobs in aviation allow you to travel the world and meet interesting people. Whether you want to fly aircraft, aid passengers, work on engines, or design the aircraft of the future, there are ample opportunities in aviation.
More than 90 percent of airline pilots in the U.S. today are male but the industry is actively working to shift that ratio to include more women. Apopka’s EAA chapter was delighted to partner with Glorious Hands to introduce its members to aviation. Glorious Hands, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization providing mentoring and empowerment opportunity to girls in Sanford, Florida. Its members are inspired to reach their greatest potential through weekly small group sessions and monthly field trips.