Program exposes youth to aviation

Boys and girls who dream of becoming pilots are invited to take to the skies on May 30 as part of the Shelby County EAA chapter’s Young Eagles Program.

The free program, set from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Shelby County Airport, is open to children ages 8 to 17, said EAA Chairman Johnny Ward.

“The EAA is an organization that promotes aviation and this is a chance to expose young people to flying,” Ward said. “The idea of giving them a free flight is promoting aviation for the future. To see the smiles on their faces … they just eat it up.”

Ward said each participant will receive a 15-minute briefing on the flight before takeoff. Parents are also encouraged to attend the briefing.

“We try to explain to them what makes the airplane fly,” Ward said. “All the kids will wear a headset to hear radio communication during the flight, and of course they love that.”

Ward said each flight will last 15 to 20 minutes and participants will fly with a licensed, experienced pilot. “Safety is paramount,” he said.

“We’re careful with escorting kids to the airplane and back,” Ward said. “We also require a minimum of an hour’s fuel when the pilots take off. We’re all about safety, safety, safety.”

Registration forms for the program are available at the Shelby County Airport Terminal from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. Completed forms should be brought to the airport on May 30, and Ward encourages parents to call in advance to schedule a flight time.

For more information, call Ward at 914-5984 or e-mail johnnyward1@yahoo.com.