The Next Step
Taking Young Eagles further into aviation
HAL SHEVERS, EAA 279855
FOUNDER/CHAIRMAN OF SPORTY’S PILOT SHOP
Since 1992, close to 1. 5 million Young Eagles’ rides
have been given by thousands of EAA volunteers.
What happened to those Young Eagles? We know
about those who entered the aviation industry in one fashion or another, but what about those who did not? Who
are they? Where are they? Why didn’t they continue in
aviation? Let’s engage our young people further into aviation. It is time for The Next Step, a program that will move
Young Eagles from the right seat to the left seat.
How many parents know their child may take flying
lessons at any age? How many know their child may solo
an airplane at just 16 years of age, and a glider at 14? How
many parents even know what it means to solo? And, how
many parents understand the lifetime opportunities that
open up for their children through a passion for flight?
This is what The Next Step program is all about. An interest in
aviation that often developed
naturally from curiosity has been
thwarted by the fences and locked
doors at airports today. What happened to the airport viewing area
and the 15-minute airplane ride?
“Hey, Dad, can we go to the airport?”
“Would your son like to come up to visit the cockpit?”
“Would your daughter like to go for a ride around the
These are questions we hear no longer; instead we have
security fences that lock our youth out of aviation. We in
the aviation community have identified these problems;
now it is time to act.
The final piece to advance more Young Eagles into participation in aviation is in place: it is Sporty’s Complete
Private Pilot Training Course. Our online course will greet
Young Eagles at the completion of their first flight, and
guide them through to their pilot certificates. Our course
guarantees the student will pass the written, oral, and flight
tests. Yes, all three. With mentoring by EAA members and
Chapters, getting youth through their written examination,
and beyond, should be a slam dunk. And, Sporty’s is giving
its online course to the Young Eagles absolutely free.
The first half of the online course is the Recreational
Course. Sporty’s is offering this course as the first goal
as youth will be able to accomplish it faster. Once that
goal is achieved, we will unlock the second course, the
Recreational to Private Transition Course, for them to
complete online. With Sporty’s Complete Flight Training Course, these Young Eagles will be off to a great start
to work with instructors and designated pilot examiners
throughout the country. Additionally, Sporty’s will provide Young Eagles with their first logbook.
With the written exam passed, the door is then open
to buy existing, lower-priced used aircraft—such as a
quality Cessna 150/152 or any number of other classic
aircraft starting as low as $20,000—a price range that
should attract these new pilots.
About 15 years ago, I was speaking with John Odegard, who at
that time ran the University of
North Dakota’s Aviation Department. He told me that only about
half of his students went directly into aviation. The other half
gravitated back into aviation in
later years. John passed away from cancer as a young
man, and the University has named its school of aviation for him. He was quite a guy and opened my eyes
to this phenomenon of people gravitating back to avi-ation…The Next Step is the same philosophy, but for
Let’s get started now, if not yesterday. EAA members
and chapters have the enthusiasm, the spirit of aviation.
Young Eagles are available. The Boy Scouts are interested
because they have an Aviation merit badge and an Aviation
Exploring program. Sporty’s courses are already online, and
a full-time EAA employee will administer the program and
answer questions. But this program can only work with the
help of everyone involved with EAA, and specifically you.
Let’s take The Next Step together!
It is time for The Next Step, a
program that will move Young
Eagles from the right seat to
the left seat.
To learn more about getting involved with The Next Step, visit