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Five Tips for Improving the Young Eagles Flight Experience – Part 1 of 5

By David Leiting, EAA Lifetime 579157, Eagles Program Manager

November 2021 – Young Eagles rallies are often a marquee event for EAA chapters. Some chapters host one or two large rallies per year, flying between 50 and 100 youths, while others host these events monthly and cap the number of flights at 20 or 30 participants. No matter the size of the event, chapter leaders spend significant time on planning the event. What the facility set-up will look like, who will be volunteering to check in youth or park aircraft, and sometimes even what food will be served are considerations. All of this planning is critical to a successful Young Eagles rally.

EAA Eagles Program Manager, David Leiting, conducting a Young Eagles Flight

Despite all this planning, how often are best practices shared for providing the best possible flight experience? The better the experience, the more likely the youth is to latch on to an interest in aviation. After all, the world’s best pancakes are no good if the proceeding flight isn’t enjoyable.

Over the next few months, EAA will feature five surefire tips for improving the Young Eagles flight experience at your chapter’s next rally. This month we examine the philosophy of quantity versus quality.

Tip #1: Fly One Young Eagle at a Time

Although this is not always a practical approach, due to a packed flight schedule or siblings wishing to fly together, flying one Young Eagle at a time is highly recommended for improving the flight experience. Although the total flight numbers may not look as impressive, the Young Eagles attending the event are more likely to experience a high-quality flight.

When only one Young Eagle is on board, it allows the pilot to spend more time focused on that individual’s experience, such as asking questions about the youth’s background, their interest in aviation, and what goals they wish to achieve. Asking these questions will provide the pilot insight into what topics to discuss before, during, and after the flight.

With only one youth along for the ride, they are guaranteed a spot in the “front seat” or at the very least behind the controls if flying a tandem aircraft. Not only is the view better from this seat, but it also allows the Young Eagle to get a better understanding of how the aircraft operates. They will feel as though they are a part of the experience, rather than just along for the ride.

An additional benefit to the one-Young-Eagle-at-a-time mantra is the fact that following the flight, the pilot can spend more time going over the Young Eagles Flight Plan with the youth and their parents (more to come on this topic in a later article). There is a plethora of beneficial content within the flight plan, and it is imperative that the pilot makes sure to properly share that information with the Young Eagle and their parent(s).

The post-flight opportunities available to a Young Eagle are one of the aspects to the program that makes it so special.

Check back next month as we discuss the pre-flight process and how to involve the Young Eagles.

For more information on the Young Eagles program visit EAA.org/YoungEagles.

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