For Greene County News
XENIA — A local Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter recently provided its 2,000th “Young Eagle” flight. The milestone was achieved when Arthur Barfield of Fairborn took LeeAnn Williams, also a Fairborn resident, for a ride in his Robinson R22 helicopter during a recent Young Eagle rally.
EAA Chapter 382, which is based at the Greene County – Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport, regularly provides such free flights to youths.
“The Young Eagle program began in 1992 as a way of introducing boys and girls ages eight to 17 to aviation by providing a free airplane ride,” Chapter 382’s Young Eagle coordinator, Wayne Moyer, said. “The original goal was to introduce one million young people to general aviation by the 100th anniversary of powered flight, Dec. 17, 2003. When that goal was met everyone agreed that we should continue and at this point 1,944,480 have had a Young Eagle flight.”
The local program began in 2001 under the supervision of Fairborn resdient Don Topmiller.
“Don’s vision was that a Young Eagle flight should not be just a free airplane ride, but a learning experience,” Moyer said. “To do that, EAA 382 holds a 20 to 30 minute ground school for the kids (and their parents) so they understand how an airplane flies, how it is controlled, what they can expect to see, and what our safety procedures are, before they fly.”
At the end of the school, participants meet their pilot and help to conduct a pre-flight inspection before climbing into the co-pilot seat for their flight.
Chapter members donate their time and aircraft to serve as pilots and ground support staff so that Young Eagle flights are completely free.