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Feeling grounded? Get airborne in five steps

Wanna be a pilot? A child, 8-17 years old, can begin a process — beginning with the child’s first flight and leading to becoming a licensed pilot absolutely free — at Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 1442’s annual fly-in, Show Time 2012.  


The fly-in will be at Tuck Airport in South Boston from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 12. 

Experimental Aircraft Association has instituted a new program called Young Eagles Flight Plan, consisting of five steps.  

According to Experimental Aircraft Association spokesman Paul Steube, the first step is the young person’s first flight at Show Time 2012.  

Approximately five aircraft — one of which will be an open cockpit biplane — will be flown by Experimental Aircraft Association members at their own expense, to introduce youth to flying.  

Once the youngster has completed the flight, he or she will receive a logbook containing a record of that first flight and will be registered as a Young Eagle, Steube said.  

Along with the logbook comes a Young Eagle Certificate and an authorization number.  

The new Young Eagle gets a free membership in EAA.  That includes a free Sport Aviation online magazine subscription, e-newsletters, members-only website, Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) Student Membership and free admission to over 300 science and technology museums.

The new Young Eagle logs onto the Internet with the authorization number to begin a free Sporty’s Complete Online Flight Training course--a $215 value--at no cost.  

Upon completion of Part 1 (recreational pilot course) of the Sporty’s program, the Young Eagle qualifies for a free flight lesson voucher at a nearby flight school, Steube explained.  

Experimental Aircraft Association will contact the young person as soon as he qualifies for the free lesson.  This lesson is valued at $120, but if the youngster meets a few qualifications, it’s free.  Then the EAA student member has access to flight training and college scholarships through Experimental Aircraft Association, he added.

 “These scholarships are underwritten by donors who want to help young people achieve their dream and become a pilot,” he said. “In addition to Experimental Aircraft Association’s flight training and Air Academy scholarships, their annual college scholarships help outstanding students, who demonstrate financial need, to accomplish their aviation goals.”

Show Time 2012 also will feature antique and classic aircraft and cars, motorcycles, powered parachutes, ultralights, homebuilt and radio controlled aircraft, various vendors and a food concession.  Admission is free.

Experimental Aircraft Association is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. It was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

Experimental Aircraft Association members are the “keepers of the flame,” Steube said.

“They love airplanes, fly them, fix them, and even build them. But it goes beyond that. It’s about passion, camaraderie, that ol’ can-do spirit, and a grassroots way of sharing the love of aviation with others. Whatever it takes to stand in the footsteps of Orville and Wilbur--if only for a moment.  Experimental Aircraft Association enables members to share the spirit of aviation with the most passionate community of recreational pilots, builders and restorers,” he added.

With the military services producing fewer pilots in recent years, and impending defense spending cuts, there is a severe pilot shortage developing, both in the United States and worldwide, Steube said.

“Throughout the aviation industry, there are many satisfying careers, ranging from pilot to mechanic to air traffic controller.  All these careers are projected to require many more personnel in the future.  With pilot training costing into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, this revolutionary Experimental Aircraft Association program is a rare opportunity for youth,” Steube said.