EAA’s International Young Eagles Day, which focuses on flying thousands of kids as an introduction to aviation, returns on Saturday, June 12, at locations throughout North America. The return of the annual event comes after the COVID pandemic sidelined the all-volunteer effort in 2020.
EAA chapters and members will fly kids ages 8-17 free of charge at local airports in their communities on that day, in activities that highlight the year-round program that has flown more than 2.2 million young people since its introduction in 1992. Thousands of those Young Eagles have become professional and recreational pilots, air traffic controllers, aviation technicians, and more after being inspired by their Young Eagles flight.
“We are in many ways making International Young Eagles Day the restart point for the Young Eagles program after the COVID pandemic put most flights on hiatus for the past year,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and chairman of the board. “One thing that never faltered, though, was the enthusiasm of our volunteer pilots and ground support teams, who are eager to introduce kids to the possibilities of flight once again.”
Also expected to participate are both Young Eagles program co-chairmen — air show legend Sean D. Tucker and NFL tight end Jimmy Graham, who are both avid pilots.
An EAA Young Eagles flight pairs a young person with a certificated pilot. After a pre-flight session that explains the parts of the airplane and how pilots prepare to fly safely each time, a brief 15-20 minute introductory flight provides a unique experience. All Young Eagles receive a certificate commemorating their adventure following the flight, and also receive follow-up opportunities ranging from free learn-to-fly courses to more aviation-related experiences that delve deeper into the world of flight.
Many Young Eagles flights are part of EAA chapter activities, which bring numerous airplanes together to provide flight experiences to youth. While the Young Eagles flights are available for the young people, parents and families are welcome to join in the activities prior to and after the flights.
“Young Eagles is a great program through EAA making it possible for a young people to get up close to a pilot and experience a ride in a small plane, unlocking the joy and desire of being a pilot and explore a career in aviation,” said Rick Mestler, EAA Chapter 1114 Young Eagles Coordinator. Mestler noted that with 2020 behind and an optimistic outlook for the last half of 2021, preliminary planning has started to investigate hosting 2-3 Young Eagles rallies between August and November of this year.
“Chapter 1114 [located in Apex] has adopted and enthusiastically supported the YE program since early in the Chapter’s rich history,” said Mestler. “As the Chapter has passed the 25-year mark and looking to the future, the Young Eagles’ program is one of the components to attract and retain a diverse group of new aviators to the Chapter.”
More information on the YE program is available at EAA.org/YoungEagles. Flight rallies and experiences throughout the country may have COVID-related protocols and precautions in place.