Fairbanks lived up to its reputation of nice weather and golden hearts as Interior pilots rallied to help the Experimental Aircraft Association chapter 1129 fly for a Young Eagles event.
"We flew 66 young people with seven different aircraft," said Roger Weggle, secretary of EAA Chapter 1129. "The Seven aircraft were donated by local pilots who volunteered to fly the youngsters."
The Experimental Aircraft Association's Young Eagles program offers an educational introduction to aviation. Organized by each chapter, youth from 7-17 years old are provided with a ground school, explanations, and exposure to general aviation aircraft that includes a flight, and in some cases controlling the aircraft.
Nationwide, the co-chairmen of the Young Eagles are Chelsea " Sully" Sullenberger, and Jeff Skiles of the Hudson River airliner landing fame.
Children and their parents watched as plane after plane pulled up at the Sadler Business Plaza's Fixed Base Operator (FBO) at Fairbanks International Airport and unloaded their Young Eagle passengers, many of whom were waving and grinning from ear to ear.
The event, a yearly gathering at the Fairbanks International Airport, is also the Airport Appreciation Day. The EAA event was sponsored in part by Alaska Aero Fuels Inc., the Fairbanks International Airport, Arctic Air, Warbelow's Air Service, the Civil Air Patrol, the Federal Aviation Administration and other local air carriers and an RC aircraft club.
The day started out at 7 a.m. when a pancake breakfast cooked by the EAA Chapter 1129 members for children and aviators until 11 a.m. As this breakfast was winding down groups of children visited different stations in the Saddler's hangar.
A particularly useful display of an airport layout provided by the FAA was staffed by Fairbanks air traffic controllers who explained the airport taxiway, ramp, hold short lines and runway markings to the Young Eagles. Each child was given a vest with their aircraft call sign and walked through a taxi and takeoff and landing on the runways of the 40 foot layout.
Once given a ground school the children were signed up to fly and given a waiver and a Young Eagles application form signed by each parent. The benefit of the YE program is that besides the free flights, each new Young Eagle receives a logbook, a certificate and a photograph. In addition each YE is eligible for a Sporty's online ground school for the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge test.
Once the knowledge test is passed, additional flight scholarships are available to complete the experience by earning a Private Pilot's license once they are 17 years old.
The event lasted until 2 p.m. and was enjoyed by the pilots, the children and the Farthest North Chapter of the EAA.
Contact Rob Stapleton at robstapleton(at)alaska.net.