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Fri, Jan 03, 2003

Young Eagles Program Reaches Record Number In 2002

One Million Young Eagles Goal Less Than 125K Away!

The Young Eagles program introduced a record 115,000 young people to the world of flight during calendar year 2002, as the volunteer Young Eagles effort has now reached more than 875,000 young people since its introduction in July 1992.

The record total during 2002 also places the program in excellent position to reach its announced goal of one million Young Eagles by Dec. 17, 2003 - the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight. A flight representing the one million Young Eagles is planned at Kitty Hawk, N.C., next December 17 as part of EAA's Countdown to Kitty Hawk celebration, presented by Ford Motor Company.

"As the Young Eagles total grows and we approach the centennial of flight, you can certainly feel the excitement among the Young Eagles pilots and ground volunteers," said Steve Buss (right), Executive Director of the Young Eagles program. "The goal of one million Young Eagles seemed so far away just a few years ago, but now it's right there for us to achieve.  We hope that other pilots join us during 2003 and enjoy being part of what has become the largest youth aviation education initiative ever created, as well as a very fulfilling way to pass along the love of aviation to a new generation."

More than 32,000 pilots have volunteered their time, aircraft and enthusiasm to the Young Eagles program since it was introduced at the 1992 EAA Fly-In Convention in Oshkosh, Wis. Each day since then, an average of 315 Young Eagles have been added to the "World's Largest Logbook" at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, which recognizes all Young Eagles and their pilots.

Among the notable highlights of the Young Eagles program in 2002 were:

  • The highest single month for Young Eagles registrations in the history of the program, as more than 17,000 Young Eagles were registered in July 2002;
  • More than 95 percent of the 1,000-plus EAA Chapters have their own Young Eagles Chapter Coordinators, who help bring together young people and local pilots;
  • In excess of 3,000 pilots flew at least 10 Young Eagles in 2002 and more new pilots were welcomed into the program than in the previous two years;
  • Young Eagles were flown on six different continents, from airports ranging from grass strips to major metropolitan airports, with young people in all socio-economic groups.

The 2003 schedule of Young Eagles activities will include Winter Flight Fest Day (Feb. 1) and International Young Eagles Day (June 14), days when EAA members and Chapters are encouraged to organize and participate in local flights and flight rallies. Young Eagles rallies are also a regular part of many EAA Chapter schedules each year and a featured part of many fly-ins, from local gatherings to such events as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and EAA regional fly-ins.

"While the sheer numbers within the Young Eagles program are very impressive, we continue to emphasize the importance of each individual flight as the essential aspect of the program," Buss said. "Each young person receives a personal flight experience, which will create lifelong memories and, we hope, the initial enthusiasm that could lead to their own exploration of aviation."

The Young Eagles program will continue after Dec. 17, 2003, although the exact details of the program's future have not been finalized. "Our focus this year is completing the task we set out to accomplish in 1992 - flying one million Young Eagles by Dec. 17, 2003," Buss added.  "The success of the program will ensure its own future, because there are always more young people who are waiting to discover flight."

The EAA Aviation Foundation was founded in 1962 and is dedicated to aviation education, preservation and research.  

FMI: www.youngeagles.org

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