137 Young Eagles experience aviation for first time
Few clouds marked the sky for most of the day Saturday (Aug. 17) for the annual Fly-In/Drive-In, hosted by the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter No. 944. at the Chillicothe Municipal Airport.
The day began with breakfast of pancakes and sausage at 7 a.m., followed by free airplane rides to children between 8 and 17 years of age as part of the national Young Eagles program. When the event ended, 137 new Young Eagles had been registered.
The Young Eagles program began in 1992. It is a grassroots operation designed to create an interest in aviation in area youth, according to EAA member and pilot Jim Summerville. Its primary purpose is to bring hands-on aviation experience and education to youth, which is why the Young Eagles program was created.
After the flight, the Young Eagles receive a certificate and their registration forms are sent to the EAA Aviation Foundation in Oshkosh, Wisc., where their names are entered into the national registry. The national registry includes roughly 1.7 million Young Eagles.
"This whole thing is to share our excitement and interest in flying with the youth of our community," Summerville said. "It's fun to see the youngsters when they get out of the airplanes with a big smile on their faces. That's worth a lot to us."
In addition to the 137 Young Eagles, 93 others were flown in airplanes and 23 received helicopter rides. Flights began at 9 a.m. and continued until about 2 p.m. Lunch was also served by Wabash beginning at 11 a.m., and Congressman Sam Graves made his annual appearance in his AT6 airplane.
EAA Chapter 944 members who flew the Young Eagles were Don Bryan, Raymond Hamilton, Bill Kieffer, Cliff King, Bob Peniston, Doyle Leppin, Dyle Wilson, Larry Warren and Jim Summerville.
Pilots flew in to the event from: Cameron; Harrissonville; Lawson; Meadville; Milan; Osborne; St. Joseph; Tarkio; Trenton; Hutchinson, Kan.; and Shawnee Mission, Kan.
In addition to free flights, face painting was provided to children attending the event. The RC Barnstormers, of St. Joseph, presented some of their RC planes as well. Others assisting throughout the day included Connie Martin, who sang the national anthem; the Boy Scouts, who assisted with parking; Mayor Chuck Haney, who provided opening remarks; and the Fire Department. The local Army National Guard had representatives in attendance as well.
All money raised throughout the day's events, including breakfast, lunch, airplane/helicopter rides and drawings, helps to pay for the cost of the airplane rides provided. It also provides scholarships for individuals interested in becoming a pilot.