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Young Eagles Crosses 1.5 Million Mark

Phil Haupt
Reno Elliott, right, with his Young Eagles certificate, along with pilot Phil Haupt.

Phil Haupt
Pilot Phil Haupt, right, and Reno Elliott, the 1.5 millionth Young Eagle.

October 15, 2009 — Just before noon Central time on Thursday, October 15, EAA’s Young Eagles department reported it had entered the 1.5 millionth Young Eagle into the World’s Largest Logbook, marking a major milestone in the program that has provided flights to kids age 8-17 since 1992.

The flight took place on October 3 at the Lincoln (California) Air Show and was piloted by Phil Haupt, EAA 724370, of Roseville, California, in his Piper PA-22. The Young Eagle is Reno Elliot, 16, of Carmichael, California.

Reno had never heard of EAA before, but a relative saw an ad in the local newspaper offering free flights for kids at the Lincoln Air Show and he decided to give it a try.

“It was a lot of fun,” the teenager said of his first flight in a small airplane. “It got me a lot more interested in aviation and wanting to go up into the air, wanting to become a pilot.”

Reno described his flight as “more comfortable, more relaxed” than expected. For some time he’s expressed a desire to work for NASA and feels his flight with Haupt will only enhance that dream.

Haupt’s interest in aviation was sparked at age 10 when his uncle took him up for a ride in his Cessna 120. “Uncle Jim was a 3,000-hour pilot and gave rides to kids all the time,” Haupt said. Now 43, he earned his Private Pilot’s Certificate in 2002, and says he joined EAA in 2003 because of the Young Eagles program.

“That’s the main reason I’m a member,” he said. “I love that program.” He had no idea when he and 15 other pilots provided some 130 kids on October 3 that one of his flights would turn out to be so significant in the history of the program.

 “The pilots came from all over Northern California - it could have been any one of us,” he said. “It’s just great to see a kid see the world in three-dimensions. I love getting kids up in the air where they can see for 20 miles instead of two.”

An electrical contractor, Haupt says he proposed to his wife with a banner-towing airplane carrying the message, “Marry Me Becky.” They were later wed while flying over the Golden Gate Bridge in a Twin Otter. Becky, who previously never showed an interest in aviation, now helps organize the Lincoln Air Show, Haupt said.

According to the EAA Young Eagle program, Haupt is credited with 56 Young Eagles flights.

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