possibly, you will share it…with other kids
and your chapters.
This is our road map so far. As you read,
think of the words fun and rewarding. The
two words represent, exactly, why Teen
Flight is such a great program.
Sharing aviation with the next generation
IN THE AUGUST 2009 issue of EAA Sport Aviation I wrote about Teen
Flight, a program for 14- to 17-year-old kids to build an airplane. The
program was hatched by Bob Strickland, was fostered by Richard
(Van) VanGrunsven, and is now mentored by Scott McDaniels.
Benevolent donors gave an airplane (in the form of an RV- 12 kit),
Van’s Aircraft donated space, Avery Tools gave discounts on tools,
and kids signed up. Teen Flight was ready, except for a shortage of
mentor/volunteers to help. And that’s what I wrote about: Teen
Flight needed volunteers.
As luck would have it, we shook some loose, and Teen Flight is
We’re not done yet. I could have waited and titled the article
“Done” and showed a picture of the kids standing by a completed
airplane. Instead I’ve opted for this mid-term report because the
process is as important as the result. I want to share it so that,
In the beginning, the volunteer/mentors
came—me included—nearly 20 in all. Before
we ever met the kids, we had a meeting
to set parameters and goals, bounce ideas
and get to know each other, and to sign the
volunteer agreement that set the standards
for interacting with the kids. For example,
all kids will address mentors as Mr./Mrs./
Ms. It sets a tone of professionalism. The
meeting was friendly, purposeful, and full of
high hopes. But there was an undercurrent
of thought: How will it work…really?
I’m happy to report it’s working quite
well. Volunteers submit their schedule
preferences, and John, our scheduler,
publishes it. That eliminates much of the
hit and miss that dooms some programs.
We meet every Saturday (excluding
holidays) from 9 a.m. (sharp) to 3 p.m.
Everyone brings his or her own sack
lunch, and lunch is usually short because
everyone wants to get back to work. Some
volunteers work every Saturday, and some
work every other Saturday, plus we have
a ready list of substitutes. All that is vital
to ensure an organized group is in place to
mentor the kids.
Teen Flight mentor Tom Durkee (orange hat) helps students assemble a flaperon.
Twelve kids were selected, mostly from the
Airway Science of Kids (ASK) program in
Portland, Oregon, a program for at-risk kids.
They come from all backgrounds: some with
an aviation background, some with none,
some with just curiosity. But backgrounds
don’t matter here. All that matters is that
they are willing to learn and willing to
commit. And ready to do airplane building.
The first meeting with everyone
in attendance—Scott, volunteers and
mentors, ASK officials, kids, and some
parents—was in September 2009. The
kids were asked why they were there.
Soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, they
said things like, “I like airplanes” and “To
learn something,” and “Sounded like fun.”
A parent asked that the mentors stand and