Ever wondered how to convince a young person of the thrill, the fun, and the unbelievable personal and professional exhilaration they might experience should they aim their sights on a career in aviation? In a world often overrun with handheld technology spewing endless streams of social media content that doesn’t seem to fully answer that question, you’re not alone.
The Experimental Aircraft Association saw a need to generate interest in aviation among kids way back in 1992 and decided nothing could top inviting kids along for their first airplane ride. They called the program Young Eagles and, to date, more than 2.2 million kids have experienced flight thanks to thousands of EAA volunteers.
Young Eagles is the foundation of EAA’s more recent efforts to encourage and engage young people in aviation through efforts like Sporty’s online Learn to Fly course, available to all Young Eagles. Nearly 75,000 kids have already enrolled. The Young Eagles program also set the stage for last year’s inaugural group of Ray Aviation Scholarship recipients that delivered full flight training scholarships in conjunction with local EAA chapters to more than 100 young people.
More than 50,000 EAA-member pilots have donated their time, aircraft, and fuel to fly kids over the past 27 years, with an equal number of ground volunteers assisting. Flights have taken place on every conceivable platform from hot air balloons to corporate jets, and on every continent except Antarctica.
Young Eagles enjoys the support of dozens of companies, including Phillips 66, the program’s presenting sponsor. Supporting sponsors include Garmin, Lightspeed, WACO Aircraft, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and Global Aerospace, as well as Young Eagles Flight Plan sponsors Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Sporty’s Pilot Shop.
Pilots interested in joining the ranks of Young Eagles volunteers can find the necessary registration information on the EAA website.