Young Eagles Program Provides Unique Opportunities

The Young Eagles Program was started in 1992 by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), which is based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The aim of the EAA Young Eagles Program is to give young people (between ages of 8 and 17) the opportunity to see the world from a whole new perspective and experience the wonders of the freedom of flight – free of charge.

Aviation is a vital part of the modern world we live in and the best way to open up career opportunities for young people to work towards is by giving them a memorable and instructive flight experience. More than 1.3 million Young Eagles have been able to take advantage of this opportunity, thanks to the generosity of over 40,000 EAA volunteer pilots. The Young Eagles Program is active in all fifty states in America, each province in Canada, as well as in more than 90 other countries all over the world. Many different types of general aviation aircraft – from light airplanes to business jets – are used by expert pilots to safely carry out these flights.

The pilots who participate in the Young Eagles Program are EAA members who volunteer their time and their aircraft to make these free flights possible. From the safety perspective, the aviation authority properly licenses each pilot in that country – in the United States the authority is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). All aircraft must meet safety requirements in order to be licensed by the authorities. Flights are carried out in compliance with federal regulations and no aerobatic maneuvers are performed.

Before taking to the air, the pilot explains to the Young Eagle what to expect during the flight. This may include a review of an aeronautical chart and identifying reference points to look out for during the flight. A complete and careful preflight inspection is carried out in order to emphasize the importance of aircraft maintenance. This includes identification of the various parts that control the airplane. The interior of the airplane, including the instrument panel, is discussed. Then it is time to buckle up and go!

The chairman of the Young Eagles Program, Harrison Ford (the famous actor), has been involved in the program as a volunteer pilot since 2001. He believes that each Young Eagles flight opens up the opportunity for young people to develop a passion for flight and shows them that they can learn the skills needed to participate in the marvels of aviation.