by Jennifer Jacobs
WHY WE FLY YOUNG EAGLES: Many pilots share a story of how their love for aviation began and their stories often involve an airplane ride when they were young. These experiences stay with them, eventually fueling their desire to become a pilot. This is important since there is a very real shortage of pilots looming. This is the essence and aim of the Young Eagle program. In addition to giving them an inspiration, we also hope exposing young people to aviation will encourage them to pursue careers in math and the sciences (STEM).
In 2016, our local chapter held two rallies, flying a total of 18 young people at the Southern Vermont Regional Airport (KRUT). This year we are planning on holding more rallies and already have interest. In this article, we would like to lay out the process for a typical rally and also go over the requirements for pilots who are interested in becoming Young Eagle pilots.
Holding a Young Eagle rally is always a balance between having enough pilots to fly 20-30 kids and having enough kids to keep interested pilots flying. We start asking pilots to fly 2-3 months in advance of our first rally so that we have an idea of how many pilots are interested and thus kids we can schedule. This then informs how much advertising we do to recruit Young Eagles. Rallies are held on the weekends, typically in the mornings (ie. we like to schedule 9am-12pm on a Saturday with Sunday as the rain date). Volunteers and the coordinator arrive an hour or 2 early in order to set up the computer system and chairs. Around 8:30am, there is a pilot briefing and sign-in. Once the Young Eagles arrive, we use volunteers to assist in signing them in and then helping them get to the airplanes, as often parents or guardians like to accompany the Young Eagles to the plane for pictures and then need an escort back to the waiting area.
To become a Young Eagle pilot, you do need to be a member of the national organization. This is for insurance purposes, since all Young Eagle flights are insured by headquarters. Very recently, EAA is also requiring that all Young Eagle pilots as well as chapter coordinators and any volunteers who spend 4 or more hours/year with youth take the EAA Youth Protection Certification program. This is an online course through the national organization and includes a background check. https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/training/youth-protection-training). This certification is free, good for 3 years from the date of issuance and ensures that everyone who comes into contact with kids is aware of EAA’s policies. In addition, on the day of the rally, the pilot needs to sign the Young Eagle’s permission form attesting that they are current, have their medical and BFR, etc. Please note that this needs to be done prior to taking the child flying.
MORE THAN JUST A GOOD FEELING
Once the Young Eagle has been flown, the coordinator will send in the paperwork and in about 14 days the pilot can check the World’s Largest Logbook and see their flights. Phillips 66 give Young Eagle pilots who use a Phillips 66 card for their fuel, a $1/gallon reimbursement (https://www.eaa.org/en/eaa/aviation-education-and-resources/eaa-youth-education/eaa-young-eagles-program/eaa-young-eagles-volunteers/phillips-66-aviation-rebate-for-eaa-young-eagles-pilots). If a pilot is able to fly 10 Young Eagles in a calendar year, then they receive a pin and recognition in the Young Eagle literature. Also, if a chapter flies more than 50 Young Eagles, the chapter gets vouchers at the end of the year of $5/child toward the EAA Air Academy. This can then be used either toward tuition or toward traveling expenses.
GO TO SMUGMUG for viewing and buying photos of the APRIL 2016 YOUNG EAGLES RALLY