By Ellie Gall, EAA 1379977, Airline Transport Pilot; First Officer, Piedmont Airlines
I met Jalynn Park, EAA 1461010, in August 2021 when she showed up to the Greene County Airport and signed up for an EAA Young Eagles flight. I was flying my 7ECA Citabria along with a handful of other dedicated pilots and their airplanes. I stood out being much younger than the other pilots, along with being female and having a tailwheel airplane. Jalynn waited for the opportunity to fly with me, and I was excited to take her up. She told me that she was interested in becoming a professional pilot one day and would soon be attending college. We exchanged phone numbers, and I was able to set Jalynn up with a flight instructor named Pat. I knew that she would be in good hands with someone who truly cared and had great stories to tell. After working with Pat, she obtained her private pilot certificate.
Today, Jalynn is a private pilot with an instrument rating. She is currently working on her commercial certificate, and I am so proud of her. I was also thrilled when she told me that she bought a Citabria! Last weekend, I had the honor of speaking about my journey in aviation alongside Jalynn and Wendy Grimm, a manager for the FAA.
People asked me how our event went, and while we spent an extensive amount of time putting together the presentation and the flyers (that included links to scholarships and mentor programs), I said that if we were able to change one person’s life, that day it was more than worth it.
As a volunteer for the EAA Young Eagles program, the ultimate goal is to have one of the Young Eagles go on to become a pilot themselves. I got to experience this after providing Jalynn with her discovery flight! Now I get to see her continue to grow in her journey as I continue to grow in mine. On top of this, the local flying community has adopted Jalynn as family.
I even got to ride in her Citabria recently, except this time I was the one in the back!