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EAA Young Eagles Program Finishes Strong 2005 By Surpassing 1.2 Million Participant Mark


EAA AVIATION CENTER, OSHKOSH, Wis. - (Jan. 11, 2006) — The EAA Young Eagles program, already the most successful youth aviation education program in history, is finishing 2005 strongly, as the program passed the 1.2-million participant mark in November.

Since Young Eagles reached its initial goal of 1 million young people flown in October 2003, more than 200,000 additional youth have benefited from the free demonstration flight program. These young people have joined the ranks of those introduced to the freedom and excitement that personal flight can offer.

"In 2003, EAA reached its initial, impressive Young Eagles goal and declared the program would continue to benefit young people in the future," said Steve Buss, executive director of the EAA Young Eagles program. "Our volunteer pilots and ground assistants have responded with enthusiasm and dedication. They understand how important it is to reach young people with the possibilities that exist through the world of flight. We are very proud of these volunteer efforts and how Young Eagles has become a significant part of the aviation community."

On Nov. 25, 2005, 10-year-old Gerald Miles of Newnan, Ga., became Young Eagle No. 1,200,000 when he was flown by EAA member William Castlen in a Cirrus SR22 airplane. Castlen, of Destin, Fla., is a member of EAA Chapter 108 (Fort Walton Beach, Fla.). He has flown nearly 250 Young Eagles since 1994, including 50 in the past 12 months. Castlen was honored at EAA's annual Wright Brothers Memorial Dinner on Dec. 17 in Oshkosh, Wis.

The EAA Young Eagles program has also meant more than flights and inspiration for young people. Young Eagles volunteer pilots bring activity and business to local airports, as an estimated 1.9 million gallons of aviation fuel have been donated to the program by Young Eagles pilots and participating airport businesses. In addition, thousands of families have come to their local airports, discovering the importance of airports and general aviation to their individual communities.

Through the first 13 years of the Young Eagles program, young people have been flown from facilities ranging from private grass airstrips and isolated waterways to major metropolitan airports and helipads. Aircraft used for Young Eagles flights have included nearly every type of aircraft, even hot-air balloons, gliders, blimps and corporate jets.

"EAA Young Eagles has become part of aviation's culture and an instantly recognizable program in the flying community," said Harrison Ford, the actor, pilot and EAA member who has served as honorary chairman of the program since March 2004, and has flown more than 200 Young Eagles in his aircraft.

"I urge all pilots to participate in Young Eagles. Aviation is unique in that it is a wonderful balance of freedom and responsibility, a lesson that serves young people well regardless of whether aviation becomes an interest they choose to pursue."

Youth who have participated in the Young Eagles program are now enrolled in every collegiate aviation program in the U.S. and in all of the nation's military service academies. In addition, selected schools throughout the country have adopted aviation and the Young Eagles program as an important science learning tool in their curricula.

EAA's Young Eagles program was founded in 1992 and has provided more than 1.2 million free demonstration flights to young people around the world through the efforts of 40,000 volunteer pilots and 50,000 ground volunteers. More information is available at www.youngeagles.org.

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