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EAA Was Everywhere Last Weekend


EAA's Pat Esslinger preflights the Young Eagles RV-6A before take-off with a soon-to-be Young Eagle
EAA's Pat Esslinger preflights the Young Eagles RV-6A before take-off with a soon-to-be Young Eagle.

June 12, 2006 — With the annual International Young Eagles Day and other events over the weekend, including the EAA B-17 and Ford Tri-Motor tours and the Golden West EAA Fly-In, it's no wonder the skies were full of EAAers. And AirVenture is still six weeks away!

Thousands of people of all ages participated in a variety of EAA aviation activities this past weekend, demonstrating EAA's increasingly wide organizational outreach.

On Saturday, EAA volunteers in the air and on the ground introduced thousands of kids to the wonder of flight at more than 140 International Young Eagles Day rallies. Reports are starting to trickle in, but if Apex, North Carolina EAA Chapter 1114's IYED flight rally is any indication, 2006 will be a terrific year for the annual EAA Young Eagles program effort. Eight pilots flew 130 new Young Eagles at the Louisburg Airport, keeping themselves and the ground volunteers busy throughout the day.

Other early reports include EAA Chapter 242 in Columbia, South Carolina, with 127 Young Eagles flown; Chapter 657 in Vine Grove, Kentucky, about 20 kids in a three-hour rally; and EAA Oshkosh about 80 at Wittman Regional Airport, site of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Meanwhile, at its current visit to Centennial Airport in Denver, Colorado, EAA's "Keep it Flyin'" B-17 Tour featuring the aircraft Aluminum Overcast expects to fly more than 200 people, while educating thousands more through ground tours. After this stop wraps up on Tuesday, the airplane will return to Oshkosh for a scheduled 120-hour maintenance, then head out for the rest of the pre-AirVenture tour beginning June 23 at West Bend, Wisconsin, Municipal Airport.

Further east, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, more than 750 people took to the skies in EAA's 1929 Ford Tri-Motor, which kicked off its mini-tour there over the weekend. Planes like these were the world's first mass-produced airliners, and folks out east can catch a slice of real aviation history when the tour heads for six more cities through the July 4 weekend.

On the West Coast, the annual Golden West EAA Regional Fly-In was going strong at Yuba County Airport, Marysville, California. John Gibson, fly-in president, said the overall attendance was a bit less than 2005, due in part to the free Air Force Thunderbirds performance a week earlier at nearby Beale AFB. But Golden West's airplane count was up--way up--to an all-time high of over 1,000 aircraft.

The new Kid Quest area was a huge hit, featuring a wind tunnel and flight simulators from McClellan Aviation Museum; a parachute drop, and other fun activities for youths.

Camping facilities were upgraded to handle up to 100 RVs. Golden West spent a lot of time and effort on keeping the grass green, resulting in a lot of positive comments from "under-the-wingers." About 90 forums and workshops were held in five tents and hangars.

Saturday night's guest speaker U-2 pilot, Maj. John Cabigas from Beale, described flying the high-altitude reconnaissance jet. Maj. Cabigas is also an EAA member who flies a J-3 Cub out of Yuba County.

The day after the fly-in, Gibson was already planning 2007. "The time between now and Christmas is key for us to secure sponsorship," he said. "We're already laying out the theme for next year."

Which, by the way, is June 8-10.

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