Eagle Flights Off to Encouraging Start
October 25, 2012 - About three months since its introduction at AirVenture Oshkosh 2012, EAA's Eagle Flights program participants have provided close to 250 individual aviation experiences to non-aviators, with more than 4,500 registration forms requested for future flights.
Similar to EAA's successful Young Eagles program, which has given free airplane rides to more than 1.7 million youths ages 8-17 over the past 20 years, Eagle Flights offers flights to adults who have always had a love of aviation, but for whatever reason have not yet acted on that love.
"It's really taking off nicely," said Trevor Janz, manager of Eagle Flights. "The motivation of chapters and individual members is very encouraging so far, and the feedback we're getting is extremely positive."
Janz hosted a well-attended Eagle Flights webinar last week, further speaking to the new program's growing popularity. Watch the archived webinar
Although Eagle Flights stems from Young Eagles, these are distinctively different programs, Janz stressed. "Eagle Flights pilots are really focusing on the mentoring aspects, on providing a quality flight experience to interested would-be pilots, and then motivating them to continue on in flight training toward a pilot rating, be that sport, recreational, or private pilot."
During an Eagle Flight, pilots are encouraged to allow passengers to fly the airplane, handle the controls - engage them in the flight and not just go along for a ride. "The goal is for the passenger to come away with the feeling, 'Hey, I can do this,'" he said.
Also, Janz notes, while Young Eagles flights tend to occur within larger chapter events - Young Eagles rallies - an Eagle Flight is more of a one-on-one occurrence. The Eagle Flight kit requests also reflect that; many come from chapters, but a healthy proportion are from individuals who may not be chapter members.
"We're finding that the most fulfilling Eagle Flights occur in one-on-one situations rather than a larger flight rally scenario," he explained. Some chapters have inquired about holding dual events with Young Eagles rides along with Eagle Flights, but this is not recommended.
One idea coming from the field was to set up an Eagle Flights sign-up area at a chapter Young Eagles rally for parents who might be interested.
Regarding program goals, Janz said EAA hopes to facilitate 3,000 Eagle Flights in 2013, although the program is not all about the numbers. "Not so much as providing quality experiences to interested people who have the passion for flight," he said.
Visit the Eagle Flights website, which includes links to where you can find an Eagle Flight, sign up to volunteer for Eagle Flights, or find answers to frequently asked questions.