Lance Bame and Cambria Olsen take flight with EAA Pilot and Young Eagle Chapter 765 Event Coordinator, David Amspoker during the Young Eagles Free airplane rides which took place on March 30 at the Mesquite Airport. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

For 25 years, Young Eagles have taken to the skies in what may be the one singular experience that sparks a career, or a hobby dedicated to flight. The Experimental Aircraft Association Young Eagles program was launched in 1992 to give interested young people an opportunity to go flying in a general aviation airplane.

These flights are offered free of charge and are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers.

On Saturday, March 30, a group of EAA Pilots from Chapter 765 out of Kingman, Arizona, flew their experimental aircrafts down to Mesquite to offer this exciting experience to Mesquite children thanks to the local efforts of Larry LeMieux, who brings the program to town each year.

The planes that were brought up from Kingman were:  A Cessna 172, Cirrus Sr22, Grumnan Tiger, Cessna 182 and a Grumnan Traveler according to the Young Eagles Event Coordinator for the Chapter, David Amspoker.

While they were still on the ground, the pilots explained what was going to happen during the flight. This might include talking about the airplane, reviewing an aeronautical chart (or map), identifying reference points during the flight, completing a careful “walk around” preflight inspection of the airplane, and identifying the parts that control the airplane.

Just before they took-off, the pilots helped the kids buckle their seat belts and describes the interior of the airplane, including the instrument panel.

When they were in the air, the kids experienced a whole new view of the earth and sky. And, if they wanted to, some pilots let their passengers take the controls.

The Martells tried to offer tethered balloon rides for the event but the winds weren’t cooperating, so they packed the balloon up and put it away. The Martells kept the basket and burner out to show children like Nickie and Sam Atkinson how the burners work and what the basket and other equipment was like. Bailey Martell, Ingrid and Steve’s granddaughter was more than willing to show them the way. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The flight lasted between 15 and 20 minutes, but most will remember this experience for the rest of their lives.

Back on the ground, there’s was more time to ask questions about the flight. Kids also received an official Young Eagles logbook, which was signed by their personal pilot, and their name was added to a long list of Young Eagles in the World’s Largest Logbook.

LeMieux always tries to offer something new and exciting for everyone; along with the free airplane rides for the kids, LeMieux has procured the help of Mesquite local Ingrid Martell.

The Martells generously agreed to bring a balloon and offer some tethered balloon rides for the day but after setting up the balloon discovered that the winds weren’t going to be cooperative. They kept pitching the inflated balloon all over the place until the Martells decided it just wasn’t going to work.

They packed the balloon up and put it away but kept the basket and burner out to show the kids how the burners work and what the basket and other equipment was like. Mercy Air was onsite to give tours/demos of some of the finer points of their helicopter and Batman will have the Batmobile along for any photo opportunities you may want to take.

The biggest thrill for the kids other than the airplane rides was the ability to meet, talk to and take pictures with Batman and the Batmobile.

The event drew 93 children, some of which were taking their very first plane ride while others looked to relive a past experience.

Since 1992, more than 1.6 million Young Eagles have enjoyed a flight through the National program and all the participating chapters. Young Eagles have been registered in more than 90 different countries and have been flown by more than 42,000 volunteer pilots.

The Young Eagle flight is the first step in a five step program: Young Eagle Flight, EAA student membership, Sporty’s Learn-to-Fly online course, First Flight Lesson and finally, scholarships for continued education. The Young Eagle program is your path from first flight to licensed pilot and soaring just like young eagles do.