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Cherishing Young Eagles
By Erin Henze
July 26, 2021 – With EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 coming after a gap year, aviation enthusiasts around the world are excited to finally meet up with flying buddies. Young Eagles’ co-chairman and air show pilot Sean D. Tucker is no exception to this.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all my EAA family,” Sean said. “The Young Eagles pilots, the Young Eagles coordinators, the kids that are going to be there … [I’m excited to] just start inflaming our passions again, because we lost a year and that was tough on everybody.”
Sean D. Tucker has been a member of the EAA community for many years, performing at Oshkosh for the first time in 1992. Having been mentored by aviation greats such as Paul and Tom Poberezny, Charlie Hillard, and Leo Loudenslager, Sean has worked hard to repay the favor to the younger generations.
“They took me under their wing, and I really started understanding what family is all about in the sky,” Sean said. “They helped mold my career, helped mentor me to have reverence for the magic of flight. The whole community understands that the youth of America are just jewels that need to be cherished and mentored, because they are the future leaders of our country. I’ve been flying kids since the Young Eagles program began.”
The Young Eagles program, beginning in 1992, has flown over 2 million kids. Chairmen over the years have included actors Cliff Robertson and Harrison Ford, test pilot Gen. Chuck Yeager, and Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles. Serving as co-chairman along with Sean is NFL tight end Jimmy Graham.
Despite succeeding such important people in aviation history, Sean holds other EAA titles at a higher importance.
“Number one, I’m an EAA family member,” Sean said. “I’m just a part of this team, which is magnificent. It’s been an honor and a privilege to be a part of this team, whether I’m the chairman, the co-chairman, or a pilot that is spreading the word. It’s all very important.”
The Young Eagles pilots and volunteers are truly important to the Young Eagles program.
“What’s really important is … to let all the volunteers and coordinators and pilots know how important they are and how critical they are to enabling young kids to their full potential and how good of work they are doing,” Sean said. “I just want to thank all the folks who held steady with the dream of inspiring the next generation.”
As the Young Eagles program evolves, free flights are not the only thing Young Eagles volunteers are doing to help inspire the next generation. Some new Young Eagles programs include the Build and Fly program and the Young Eagles Workshops.
The EAA Young Eagles Build and Fly program is an intensive RC model building and flying initiative to introduce youths to aircraft construction and to the fundamentals of flight. This program is designed for EAA chapters to partner with local Academy of Model Aeronautics clubs, where the chapter can purchase a program kit with everything needed to build the RC model.
The EAA Young Eagles Workshops program is a one-day or multiple-day experience put on by EAA chapters for local youths to introduce them to the basic elements of airplanes and aviation. Using content, materials, and a guidebook provided by EAA national, chapters can help encourage a passion for aviation in their local areas.
“The programs are awesome because you light that spark within, you engage them, and now you take them to the next step on their journey,” Sean said. “I’m trying to help my local chapter on the Workshops and Build and Fly, and I think taking it to this level with these programs is exactly where we need to go with our next steps.”
Overall, Sean D. Tucker is proud to be a part of the Young Eagles program.
“The Young Eagles, they have the largest civilian air force in the world, sacrificing their time and energy for a good cause to inspire the youth of America and spread the word that your kid, no matter color of your skin, rich or poor, your kids are precious,” Sean said.
More information about Young Eagles can be found at the Blue Barn, as well as online at YoungEagles.org.