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How to Grow Pilot Population? EAA Young Eagles Gets it Right and Creates Aviators

The 1.6 million youth already flown in EAA program are five times more likely to become pilots

March 2, 2011 — Getting young people engaged in flying in the midst of a technology-filled world may seem like a daunting task, but new data shows that the EAA Young Eagles program is making a significant impact in creating aviators. The results emerged from a joint EAA/FAA project that matched the names of Young Eagles, now ages 15-34, flown since the program’s inception in July 1992 with the FAA registry. EAA Chairman Tom Poberezny announced the figures in his Position Report column published in the March edition of EAA Sport Aviation magazine.

“Since the Young Eagles program began, it has become the most successful youth aviation education program in history,” said Poberezny, who flew the first Young Eagles at the 1992 EAA Fly-In Convention in Oshkosh. “Now with nearly 20 years of flights by EAA-member pilots, the numbers show that Young Eagles is making an impact on the pilot population that is unmatched by any other single program.”

Among the most remarkable findings is that more than 1.1 million Young Eagles who are now ages 15 to 34 are 5.4 times more likely to earn a pilot certificate than those of the same age who have not had a Young Eagles flight. Already, 7.3 percent of all pilots below age 35 are former Young Eagles, a number that will grow as the group reaches the age – late 30s to early 50s – when their participation in aviation accelerates.

Among the facts found in the preliminary research:

  • 7.3 percent of all pilots below age 35 are former Young Eagles (the oldest Young Eagles from 1992 are now reaching age 35).
  • Young Eagles are 5.4 times more likely to earn a pilot certificate than those who have not flown as a Young Eagle.
  • Nine percent of those pilots are female, a 50 percent difference when compared to females being just 6 percent of the current U.S. pilot population.
  • Two out of every 100 young people who take their first Young Eagles flight at age 17 earn pilot certificates. The older a Young Eagle is at the time of a first flight, the more likely that young person is to become a pilot. Young Eagles ages 13 and up are especially more likely to pursue a pilot certificate.
  • The more flights that a Young Eagle takes, the more likely that young person will become a pilot.

The research was conducted by EAA and FAA beginning in September 2010.

“More young men and women are becoming pilots at an early age because of Young Eagles, so they will have a longer and greater impact on aviation,” Poberezny said. “Everyone involved in this program can be very proud of the results. More importantly, these results build excitement for what is yet to come to welcome the next generation of aviators through Young Eagles and other EAA programs.”

Those programs include the EAA Flight Plan for young people, encompassing Sporty’s Online Pilot Training Course – free of charge – that has already been accessed by more than 6,000 Young Eagles in just two years, as well as EAA student memberships available to all Young Eagles at no cost.

EAA’s Young Eagles program was founded in 1992 and has provided more than 1.6 million free demonstration flights to young people around the world, through the efforts of 43,000 volunteer pilots and 50,000 ground volunteers.  For more information, click here.


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