The EAA Chapter 944 Fly-In/Drive-In is set for Saturday, Aug. 17, at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport, east of Chillicothe. Event coordinator Jim Summerville said the annual event, now in its 21st year, serves as an opportunity to spark the interest of aviation in the minds of area youth.
"The National EAA Association started this program about 20 years ago," Summerville explained. "The whole idea behind this is to encourage and get young people into aviation. We call it the Young Eagles Program. We're trying to find people, especially in this area where people don't have as much exposure to aviation as you would be in metropolitan areas. We're kind of a grassroots operation out here."
Each year, EAA Chapter 944 raises funds to send young aviation enthusiasts to the week-long Air Academy in Oshkosh, Wis. The local chapter also assists young pilots in obtaining their private pilots licenses. Summerville said strong community support at the Fly-In/Drive-In events, by residents and merchants, have helped in the cost of these projects.
"We contact our local merchants in Chillicothe and the surrounding area to donate money or items for our raffle," Summerville said. "That's how we raise our money. These merchants have been very generous to give us their support. This helps us provide the education opportunity for young people that really have no other way to easily experience that."
The event will begin with a sausage and pancake breakfast at 7 a.m. followed by a presentation of Honor Guards, a word from Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney and the introduction of Air Academy and "Learn to Fly" scholarship recipients. Weather permitting, local pilots will begin flying Young Eagles (ages 8-17) free-of-charge around 9 a.m. Flights for other attendees will follow.
Other points of interest during the day include the Life-Flight Eagle helicopter, the Missouri Highway Patrol "Convincer," Pilots for Christ, Civil Air Patraol, Chillicothe Fire Department, face painting, displays by local car dealerships and a special fly-in by Congressman Sam Graves. A special performance by the St. Joseph Remote-Controlled Flying Club and Eagles Club is scheduled to be held between 11 a.m. and noon. Those seeking more information are encouraged to contact Jim Summerville at 660-707-3387.