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Children who yearn to fly welcome at Young Eagles event


Young Eagle Michael Griffith gets ready to fly with pilot Jerry Kollmar during the 2013 Prosser Young Eagles event. Children ages 8 to 17 are welcome to schedule a free flight during this year’s event to be held Saturday, May 17, from 8 a.m. to noon.

PROSSER – It’s time again for children who want to fly to get their parents to sign them up for a Young Eagles free flight.

The Prosser chapter of the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) will be hosting a Young Eagle event on Saturday, May 17, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Prosser Airport. Children ages 8 through 17 are eligible for the free event.

Young Eagles was launched in 1992 to give youths an opportunity to go flying. Since then, more than 1.8 million Young Eagles have been registered and enjoyed a flight through the program.

“The goal is to introduce kids to aviation,” said local coordinator RJ Blahut. “Every year we try to build on the program. We get local pilots to take kids up on their first flight and expose them to what aviation is like.”

Members of the EAA hope that the experience will lead to a lifelong love of flying. Some children eventually choose flying as a career.

“We give them a 15 to 20 minute ride over the local area with a local pilot,” said Blahut. “They wear the headset, see or even use the controls, get a hands-on experience. We fly a pattern around the airport and, if possible, we fly over the child’s house.”

Blahut says children get what they prefer out of the flight. Some children might simply want to see what it’s like to fly while others will be interested in taking the controls and learning how the plane works.

Children who have already taken a flight are welcome to come back each year, according to Blahut.

“We don’t just want to give them a first taste, but get them back,” he said. “We try to do the program on an annual basis. Then they can go the next step and get scholarships and training.”

Children who register for Young Eagles get a number of benefits, including membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics, free admission to a variety of science and technology museums around the world and an online flying course from Sporty’s Pilot Shop.

“It’s a complete course worth a couple of hundred dollars,” said Blahut. “They get it for free. There’s a code in the logbook for children 13 and up to sign up.”

The EAA also will reimburse children when they pass the FAA written exam, and pay for their first flight lesson.

“We are invested in getting young kids involved in aviation,” said Blahut. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of other programs and scholarships available.”

To learn more, Blahut said people can visit the EAA website at eaa.org or the Young Eagles website at youngeagles.org. People can also call Blahut at 509-391-0766 to arrange a flight or reserve a spot for the May 17 event. People can also e-mail Blahut at rj@westwindas.com.

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