Wings Up! The Young Eagles Experience for Future Pilots

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Young Eagles Flight for 8-17 year olds

Nothing will ever equal that moment of exhilaration which filled my whole being when I felt myself flying away from the earth. It was not mere pleasure; it was perfect bliss…”  — Prof. Jacques Alexandre Cesare Charles

Fly along with me; I can’t quite make it alone.  I try to make this life my own.” – Foo Fighters

Soaring with the Young Eagles

Like many children (and professors and rock stars), my 14-year-old daughter, Holland, dreams of becoming a pilot.

This morning, for the very first time and with the grown ups’ permission, she took over the controls and flew a plane.

A real one.

In the sky.

…and landed safely, thank goodness!


Soaring with the Young Eagles
The Runway Beckons!

And now she is more hooked than ever before on her aviation career prospects.

Perhaps you also dream of “slipping the surly bonds of earth”?     If you are ages 8-17 and yearning to fly, you need to check out The Young Eagles.  The coordinators of this all-volunteer program take young, would-be aviators on a 20-minute flight, thus allowing the youth to experience life as a pilot for the duration of their short flight.  Children even get to take the controls momentarily!

Soaring with the Young Eagles
Sunglasses Optional.

The Young Eagles program is a win-win-win for everyone involved.  Pilots volunteer their aircraft, fuel, time and expertise to take each student on their first cockpit flight.  It is a thrill for pilots to create priceless expressions of pure awe on the children’s faces, as many of the young participants have never flown in any aircraft at all beforehand.

Parents of Young Eagles participants notice a new commitment on focus, motivation and maturity from their kids according to the program’s sponsor, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).  A few minutes in the air has become a positive, lifechanging experience for the over 2 million Young Eagles who have participated ever since the program’s inception in 1992.

Soaring with the Young Eagles

Believe it or not, the aviation experience doesn’t end when the flight does.  Each child receives a certificate of participation, his or her own first log book, and his or her own code to sign up for Sporty’s Complete Online Flight Training course!  Once the child has successfully completed the course, he or she can sign up for an introductory flight lesson at a nearby airfield.

This all must cost an arm and a leg, right?  Flying is expensive!

Incredibly, the Young Eagles program is offered at no charge!  Even the online aviation lessons and first flight lesson are free.  On top of these benefits, EAA offers generous scholarship monies to students serious about their path in the aviation industry.

Soaring with the Young Eagles
At the airport for our Young Eagles flight

Flying an aircraft isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.  In addition to pilots, there are multitudes of aviation enthusiasts working together worldwide to keep planes flying successfully in the air.  As a Young Eagle you can still learn the steps to take to become an air traffic controller, baggage handler, airline reservations agent (I did this myself many years ago!), flight attendant and more.

Soaring with the Young Eagles
Air Traffic Worker

For safety’s sake, on the day of your Young Eagles flight it’s important to ensure your child will follow the important rules laid down by his or her pilot.  Parents can rest assured that each pilot and aircraft is properly certified by the FAA.

So what are you waiting for?  Do you fight your little brother for the window seat?  Enjoy dodging the harried crowds in airport corridors with your roll-on luggage?  Excited at the idea of visiting all sorts of unchartered territory?  Perhaps a career as a pilot is perfect for you!

Soaring with the Young Eagles

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the annual Occupational Outlook Handbook, from which I would like to share the qualities they say make a successful pilot:

Communication skills. Pilots must speak clearly when conveying information to air traffic controllers and other crew members. They must also listen carefully for instructions.

Observational skills. Pilots regularly watch over screens, gauges, and dials to make sure that all systems are in working order. They also need to maintain situational awareness by looking for other aircraft or obstacles. Pilots must be able to see clearly, be able to judge the distance between objects, and possess good color vision.

Problem-solving skills. Pilots must be able to identify complex problems and figure out appropriate solutions. When a plane encounters turbulence, for example, pilots assess the weather conditions and request a change in route or altitude from air traffic control.

Quick reaction time. Pilots must respond quickly, and with good judgment, to any impending danger.

Soaring with the Young Eagles
Not all the work takes place in the cockpit.

My advice?  Visit today and follow the directions to seek out an introductory Young Eagles flight experience with a pilot volunteer in your area.  Then become a student member of EAA and receive free admission to over 300 Science and Technology museums in addition to numerous other benefits.  I hope you will sign up, participate, and tell me all about it in the comments, below.

Soaring with the Young Eagles
Taking Off!

As a budding aviation buff, you should also spend some time with my “Journey Itself” video series for some visual fun.

And now I gotta fly… and learn aviation myself vicariously by looking over Holland’s shoulder as she watches the Young Eagles’ complimentary ground instruction online training.  So cool!  Wings up!

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35 thoughts on “Wings Up! The Young Eagles Experience for Future Pilots

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  1. I have never wanted to be a pilot and still never would but I would def do this for one day as an adult! Haha

    1. I’m confident you’ll be able to find something near you, Angela! Visit the website and/or google “Young Eagles” + your region. And let me know how they enjoy it!

  2. Your little family is amazing. You follow your kids interests which in turn makes them really interesting! The Young Eagles Program for 8-17 year olds is something. I liked the application of pilot skills – good for discussion between kids and parents. And then you top it off with EAA for continuing education and free museum visits. What a package!

    1. I’m thinking encouraging future aviation employees is the ultimate goal, especially due to the upcoming pilot shortage everyone in the industry talks about!

  3. That looks great! My dad and brother are pilots, so I have been able to fly in some small aircraft with them before. It was always fun! We would fly over our house and other places we knew.

    1. “Nothing is ever really free” I tell my kids, Dee! Maybe this is different! But I believe the EAA folks are concerned about the predicted upcoming pilot shortage and thus wish to strongly encourage today’s kids to develop a passion for flight.

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