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Young Pilot Benefits from Young Eagles, CAP Programs

 

Alex Agosti
Alex Agosti was motivated to fly by the EAA Young Eagles program and his local Civil Air Patrol squadron.

Alex Agosti
Alex flies aerobatics with Scott Sexton in his Bellanca 7KCAB Citabria.

December 20, 2012 - Alex Agosti, EAA 1047817, of Kenai, Alaska, took advantage of two well-established youth aviation programs en route to earning his private pilot certificate on his 17th birthday this past March: the Civil Air Patrol and EAA's Young Eagles.

The high school senior is currently a cadet member of the Kenai Alaska CAP Composite Squadron as well as a member of EAA Chapter 975, and eyes a career in aviation.

Alex's flying experience started early in life, flying occasionally with an uncle in his PA12. Then at age 13 he attended a 10-day CAP glider encampment, learning about aviation safety, glider assembly, aerodynamics, soaring principles, and techniques. He attended again the following year, and logged several glider flights. Two years ago, Alex and three other CAP cadets, all glider encampment participants, were invited to participate in the Young Eagles program by Jim Bielefeld, EAA 169142, who operates local air taxi Kenai Aviation. Jim flew the group of four CAP cadets in a Cessna 206.

That Young Eagle flight made Alex eligible to receive the free Sporty's Learn to Fly online course, free EAA student membership, a free first flight lesson, and refund for the cost of the FAA written exam. As a CAP cadet, he was eligible to receive flight training in CAP aircraft at very reasonable rates. In addition, CAP flight instructors are volunteers and not allowed to charge for their time.

When you add it all up, these two programs create perhaps the most cost-effective way for teens to earn their private ticket. Alex also benefitted at Kenai when senior CAP squadron members generously offered to subsidize some of the remaining expense.

He attended ground school at the local community college, studied online with the Sporty's course and other web resources, and flew with CAP instructor pilots like Tom Lemanski, EAA 210041, who at the time was Chapter 975 vice president. Alex also flew with Dick Woodin, a retired United Airlines DC-10 captain.

"Alex's prior experience in gliders made a huge difference when it came to flying the Cessna 172," related Lemanski, now EAA Chapter 975 president. "He was already familiar with most of the flight instruments, and was pretty good at holding a heading and altitude." Learning the systems and engine operation techniques also went well, thanks to Alex's assisting in annual inspections and other maintenance jobs at Kenai Aviation.

What's more, he received excellent exposure to unusual attitudes by flying aerobatics in a Bellanca 7KCAB Citabria with Chapter 975 Young Eagle coordinator Scott Sexton, EAA 642475, and spent an hour airborne with air show pilot Greg Koontz, EAA 148761/IAC 20242.

Alex targeted March 2, 2012 - his 17th birthday - for his checkride. Alaska weather can be brutal with frequent low ceilings and near-record snowfall making it difficult to meet cross country requirements. So he trained whenever possible, sometimes in subzero temperatures.

When March 2 arrived, Alex was ready. He described the thorough checkride from local FAA Designated Pilot Examiner Dean Eichholz as "grueling," but at the end of the day he was able to celebrate both his birthday and new status as a private pilot.

Now a senior in high school, Alex flies whatever he can, whenever he can, and works part time at Kenai Aviation, and continues to be active in CAP and EAA Chapter 975. He has logged time in Cessna 150/172/180/182/206, plus several other types including PA18 and PA22 on skis or floats, a Twin Bonanza, and even a T-6 Texan warbird.

Alex plans to fly for a living, but first his primary focus is on enrolling in the aviation program at the University of Alaska at Anchorage.

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