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AirVenture Cup Racers Give 25 Young Eagles Flights
By Sam Oleson
July 28, 2017 - Back in the mid-1990s, Joe Corragio was simply a kid interested in aviation. Then, he became involved with EAA’s Young Eagles program shortly after its inception. Aviation soon became a career, and more broadly, a lifestyle.
Joe is now a professional pilot, but on Thursday he was among 17 volunteer pilots who gave flights to 25 Young Eagles at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Young Eagles program.
For Joe, it was about giving back to something that so heavily influenced the course of his life.
“It’s really neat. It’s a cool way to showcase the Young Eagles program,” Joe said. “The Young Eagles program has done so much for me. It’s really an honor to give back to the program. I don’t do as many Young Eagles flights as I would like, but being able to do them here at Oshkosh, and show the rest of the folks that are here the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Young Eagles program, is a really cool opportunity.”
Eric Whyte, founder of the AirVenture Cup Race, was one of the organizers of Thursday’s Young Eagles event that saw AirVenture Cup pilots volunteer to give the flights. Although Eric wasn’t a Young Eagles pilot on Thursday, he’s been involved with the program for many years, and was actually Joe’s Young Eagles pilot back in 1995.
Bringing the AirVenture Cup and Young Eagles together was something Eric was more than happy to do.
“It’s really a chance for all of us participating in the air race to give back to EAA,” Eric said. “We’re happy to do it.”
EAA Young Eagles Program Manager Brian O’Lena saw Thursday’s Young Eagles flights as a great opportunity to promote the program firsthand, in front of thousands of EAA members. It’s one thing to hear about the program, but it’s another to see it in action and what it means to those involved — both the pilots and Young Eagles participants.
“The big thing is we’re trying to draw attention to the program,” Brian said. “We’re trying to encourage EAA members to volunteer in the Young Eagles program … that’s what this is all about.”
As for the kids involved in Thursday’s flights, it was an experience they won’t forget.
“It wasn’t my first time flying, but it was my first time in a plane like that, and it was pretty cool,” Annalee Wrolstad said. “I liked going over Lake Winnebago.”Nolan Hall added, “It was really exciting! Getting to see the whole grounds [was my favorite part].”