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Learning to Fly

Aviation showcased on International Learn to Fly Day

Fred Stadler with Troy Holland
EAA volunteer pilot Fred Stadler, right, prepares to take Oshkosh resident Troy Holland on an introductory flight during International Learn to Fly Day.

Sporty's open house
The ramp at Sporty’s Open House/ International Learn to Fly Day event was nearly filled to capacity May 21.

May 23, 2011 — With more than 200 scheduled events by EAA chapters, flight schools, and FBOs, along with countless pilots taking a friend up for a flight, the second International Learn to Fly Day attracted thousands of people to airports throughout the country and beyond last Saturday, May 21. From Sydney, Australia, where 10 planes gathered for the day’s first event, to facilities across America, people were introduced to aviation in a way they’d never experienced before.

“It was very gratifying to hear from chapters all over the country about their success stories and the number of people they took for orientation flights,” said EAA’s Ron Wagner, manager of field operations. “More importantly is the enthusiasm these people who are new to flying showed for aviation.
“I would encourage everyone who participated in International Learn to Fly Day to follow up in a week or two and invite these fledgling pilots to attend an EAA chapter meeting or simply come out to the airport to hang out and become part of the aviation community.”

Brian O’Lena, EAA’s youth programs manager, attended the large Open House Fly-In at Sporty’s in Batavia, Ohio, held in conjunction with International Learn to Fly Day. It was also a celebration of Sporty’s 50th anniversary, and according to Sporty’s, more than 200 airplanes flew in as the airport nearly ran out of parking space.

“Events like Sporty’s Open House not only introduce new people to flying but they encourage local support of airports that are so vital to all of aviation,” O’Lena said. Also on hand representing EAA were Jeff Skiles, co-chairman of the EAA Young Eagles program, and Mac McClellan, EAA editor-at-large. (See Mac’s report on Sporty’s.)

About 2,000 people turned out and took part in activities that included seven well-attended seminars (two on the iPad in the cockpit were most popular), introductory flights, and perusing 30 vendor exhibits - as well as walking around and looking at all those aircraft parked on the grounds. Visitors also came hungry - a reported 1,200 hot dogs and 800 pieces of anniversary cake were consumed.

Here are some of the reports received from some other local events involving EAA chapters. If you have an International Learn to Fly Day, we’d love to hear from you. Send photos and reports to chapters@EAA.org.

EAA Chapter 1252, Lorain County Regional Airport, Elyria, Ohio
Atlantic Southeast and ExpressJet Flight attendants, pilots, and mechanics welcomed thousands Saturday this past weekend to spread their love of aviation to aspiring aviators at a Learn to Fly Day in Ohio. Attendees got a close-up look at an ExpressJet ERJ 145 and Yankee Air Museum’s B-25 Yankee Warrior, and heard about career opportunities from the combined airline representatives. Also on display was the Metro Life Flight helicopter.

Also featured was an all-pilot cover band, which performed at the event.

Chapter 10
EAA Chapter 10’s Jim Pouge runs the flightline at the chapter’s May 21 event in Owasso, Oklahoma.

EAA Chapter 10, Owasso, Oklahoma
At least a dozen aircraft offered rides and several more were on static display from local builders and vendors at Chapter 10’s International Learn to Fly Day event, held May 21 at Gundy's Airport (O38) in Owasso, Oklahoma. The weather was great, and the chapter signed 124 flight waivers, which produced about 150 demonstration flights from approximately 250 people attending. The many exhibits included Aircraft Specialties Services, Sporty’s, Aircraft Spruce and Specialty, Vans, Zenith, RANS, Garmin, Sonex, Quicksilver, and EAA Membership Services.

A flight simulator was accompanied by several CFIs to answer questions at the Flight Instruction display. The chapter signed up several new members who have an interest in aviation and flight training. They also received media coverage before, during, and after the event and many people are already asking about the next flying event. 

EAA Chapter 706, Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin
Chapter 706 held an International Learn to Fly Day event on Saturday, offering rides and flight information to the general public. Although hampered by rain that kept planes grounded for most of the day, the chapter plans to hold other events in the future, including a fly-in, pancake breakfast, and car show at the airport.

“So far, we’ve just been sharing stories about how we started flying,” said Brendan Doughty, a chapter officer. “It’s a good way to learn about (flight-related) things and get to know people at the airport.”

EAA Chapter 2, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Some 30 people attended the chapter’s International Learn to Fly Day event at Smith Field and had the opportunity to pose questions to pilots, flight instructors, aircraft owners, and others about flight. Introductory flights for adults were available for $15, and the event had to be extended by two hours to satisfy the demand, reported the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette.

Several people who took flights registered for ground school before leaving.

EAA Chapter 1270, Houghton, Michigan
The EAA Chapter 1270 meets once a month at the Houghton County Airport, located on the Keweenaw Peninsula (Upper Michigan), and conducts Young Eagles flights. This past Saturday, they took some older eagles for rides in honor of International Learn to Fly Day.

Young Eagles flights are intended to get kids excited about flying and to consider becoming a pilot. Same thing for the older folks. “I show them all the controls, how the rudder works, make tight turns and explain what an airfoil is,” said Chapter President Douglas McKenzie.

EAA Chapter 252, Oshkosh
Rainy weather curtailed the number of introductory flights at the Oshkosh International Learn to Fly Day event hosted by Chapter 252, but about 50 people came out to learn more about aviation, and enjoy a free lunch. Several indicated a desire to learn more about becoming a pilot.

“The Oshkosh event is what we hope was typical of those held across the country, with welcoming chapter members and enthusiastic, interested people coming to the airport wanting more information on how to become a pilot,” Ron Wagner said. “We wish the weather would have cooperated. It was like a Young Eagles event, only for grown-ups.”

Sky Chiefs Aviation

Sky Chiefs Aviation, Gainesville, Florida
Sky Chiefs Aviation in Gainesville, Florida, held its second International Learn to Fly Day event at Gainesville Regional Airport, providing 30-minute introductory flights to 25 people. Participants were given the chance to control its Cessna 172SP, performing basic flight maneuvers under the instruction of Ryan Foote, CFII, owner and chief flight instructor. Sky Chief’s instructors and staff were also present to answer questions and provide information about requirements and training needed to earn a private pilot certificate.
Food and beverages were also provided. It was a great way for the instructors and staff of Sky Chief’s Aviation to share their enthusiasm for flying and to increase community interest in aviation. To learn more about Sky Chief Aviation, click here.

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