One of the greatest things about the Aviation world is that it aspires to educate even the youngest of people out in the world as well as give them the opportunity to take their first airplane ride. With the technology that has continued to develop over the decades allowing us to gain flight and travel to new and exciting places, so has our desire to share the gift of flight. That is why in 1992 the U.S. Experimental Aircraft Association launched the Young Eagles Program. The program was designed to give kids and young adults between the ages of 8 and 17 a chance to take their first airplane ride and learn a little bit more about the wonderful world of Aviation. Completely free of charge to those who would like to experience a flight in a general aviation airplane, the volunteers in this program as well as sponsors help to pick up the cost. So far the program has been a success and has reached over 2 million kids in 90 different countries, allowing them the gift of flight.
Credited with much of the success of the Young Eagles program is the 43,000 pilots that have not only donated their time and flying skills, but most of them also required the use of their own planes as well as picking up the entire cost of the flights that were given. With such enthusiasm to help spread knowledge and perhaps stir desire in today’s youth to find an interest in the aviation industry, this program is helping to engage the attention of future pilots. As a matter of fact with the program taking off so successfully there has now been a new “wing” added to it. In May of 2009 The EAA and Sporty’s Pilot Shop found in Ohio, have created the Next Step within the Young Eagles Program. They have created an online Compete Flight Training Course to any adolescent that may be interested in learning more about becoming a pilot after their Young Eagle flight. There are also pilot logbooks available to those who want to log flight information. This is the perfect way to test the waters of aviation and see if you have what it takes to become a pilot or maybe find another part of aviation that you are interested in. If we create an outlet of experience and knowledge for today’s youth, they are able to explore things that may normally seen out of their reach.
This being said for those that are sincerely interested in the world of aviation there are many scholarships, aviation camps, internships, as well as schools and programs that offer aviation instruction. In a world where our knowledge continues to grow on a daily basis, the youth of today are the next in line to broaden what we already know about technology today. If we can start with them young and pave a path that encourages them to succeed in the field they choose as well as explore it to better understand where their strengths and interest lie, the more we succeed in helping to develop their futures. The Young Eagles program was started as a small idea to spread experience and awareness and has grown beyond our belief. With so many young children, teens, and young adults engaging in the idea of aviation and what it has to offer we can only hope that the program continues to succeed and grow as time goes on. If you are interested in becoming a Young Eagle Volunteer go to the EAA’s website and click on the volunteer link.