EAAers in action
in the spotlight
Because It’s Fun
Flying Young Eagles provides enjoyment, satisfaction
BARBARA A. SCHMITZ
Two little words, but they go a long way toward
explaining why pilots give of their time, their airplanes,
and their fuel to give children free flights through EAA’s
Young Eagles program.
“It really becomes a labor of love,” says Jim Moss, of
Marana, Arizona, who has flown 439 Young Eagles. “You
would probably be going for a $100 hamburger anyway.
So why not do something that will help another and, in
the process, have a really good time?”
Why not indeed?
Many of the pilots who
have flown hundreds
of children ages 8-17
through Young Eagles say
the program provides a
sense of accomplishment
and satisfaction. In fact,
that’s what keeps them
flying and active in the
program. And while they
can’t cite any statistics,
they say the program is working, with stories of former
Young Eagles who have gone on to pursue aviation as a
hobby or career.
Bob Epting, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has given
more than 2,600 children Young Eagles flights. He says he
got involved in the program by chance, when he stopped
by a nearby fixed base operator during a flight rally. They
persuaded him to fly a few kids that day.
“I enjoyed the people who were flying, but I especially
enjoyed the kids,” he says. “That first rally reminded me
of all the days gone by…and how I had longed to fly but
hadn’t had access. I realized on that day I had the means
to make that happen for kids who might be in the same
position I had been in.”
While he enjoys flying all kids, giving Young Eagles
flights to those with special needs are the most rewarding.
He regularly flies children with severe burns as part of a
therapeutic program at a regional burn center.
“An airplane ride changes their self-image,” Bob
says. “Helping to fly a plane stretches their imagination
of what is possible. When they know what is possible,
then children can begin to heal and recover from the
emotional scars of their injuries.”
“It’s so rewarding to see their look
of joy and delight when they realize
they’re flying the plane. That’s where
self-confidence and self-esteem
come in.” —Diana Richards
Jimmie Baker, of Pensacola, Florida, has given more
than 724 Young Eagles flights and says the more kids he
flies, the more he enjoys it.
“I have a blast with it,” he says. “All the reward I ask is
that some kids remember it. The payback for flying Young
Eagles is looking at the kids and seeing the excitement
and knowing that they’re probably not going to land for
another eight or 10 hours. There is no way you can put a
price on that.”
As a child, Jimmie says he was one who always wanted
to fly, but couldn’t afford an airplane ride. “If an airplane
flew over the house, I always ran to the window to take a