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Wed, Feb 19, 2020

An Exciting Day At Young Eagles Event For EAA Chapter 534

Gave 14 Young Eagles Their First Aviation Experience

Another successful Young Eagles event took place on Saturday February 15, 2020 thanks to Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534, located at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, FL.

It was a great day for first flights with the Young Eagles. There were blue skies with a few puffy white clouds and a wind around ten knots which freshened later in the morning with some fairly strong gusts.

The crowd of kids and parents gathered about 9 a.m. in the Chapter’s EAA hangar to start filling out paperwork and being assigned to a pilot. The paper work completed, EAA Chapter 534 president, and Young Eagles Chief Pilot, Joel Hargis, gave the kids and their parents an orientation talk about what to expect. They were told about pre-flighting the aircraft, how to maintain a sterile cockpit during the takeoff and landing sequences when the pilots were talking to the tower.

Sometimes excited young folks start chattering loudly on the intercom when they discover they can talk to each other and it makes things difficult for the pilots to hear the air traffic controllers.

At this point parents are encouraged to accompany their children to the ramp with the pilots to see the plane they will be flying in and take pictures. Flights typically last about twenty minutes but sometimes when they have an amphibian such as a SeaRey they might last a little longer because they will get to experience a water landing. During each flight a Young Eagle may get to actually fly the plane under the watchful eye of their EAA pilot.

On this day EAA Chapter 534 flew 14 Young Eagles. They provided seven volunteer pilots with their private single engine fixed wing planes. There was no charge for the event. The chapter also provided eleven chapter volunteers to handle the paperwork, escort folks to the ramp and marshal the aircraft traffic there.

This day there were a couple of unusual events. The first one was an encounter on the taxiway with several wild turkeys who felt the airport was their private domain. Generally, pilots like to steer clear of any large birds but in this case the birds decided they were going to get up close and personal with the planes. Much to the consternation of the tower personnel and the pilots these large turkeys were walking all around the moving aircraft on the taxiway and in one case one of them decided it liked the view better from on top of the wing of the plane. They just had no fear of airplanes. Needless to say, this situation slowed things down a bit.

Later on, when one of the pilots landed and was showing some photos of the turkeys, a gust of wind came along and blew the canopy closed on her plane with a bang. As a result, the locking handle at the top of the canopy became bent and the canopy could no longer be closed and locked. Now she would not be able to fly her aircraft home without some repairs.

(Images provided with EAA Chapter 534 news release. Top: Young Eagle Edie Thompson is tucked into the amphibian SeaRey. Bottom: EAA Chapter 534 pilot Joel Hargis (center) gets ready to takeoff with his Young Eagle Crew Luke Thompson and Kyrin Mays)



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