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Young Eagles New Program Manager Introduction
By David Leiting, EAA Eagle Programs Manager, EAA Lifetime 579157
December 2021 – Hello there! Before diving into this month’s newsletter, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is David Leiting. I took two Young Eagles flights as a youth, am now an active Young Eagles pilot, and the new EAA Eagles Programs Manager.
I have been with EAA as a staff member since December 2015, where I was first hired as an intern for the chapters team. I spent my first five years working on that team, where I had the opportunity to meet many of you and form some incredible relationships. In September 2020 I made the move to EAA’s membership development team, where I led the membership marketing, membership benefits efforts, and worked as the staff liaison for AirVenture Admissions. My hiatus from the chapters team exposed me to some great learning opportunities, and some amazing AirVenture Admissions volunteers. However, I can emphatically say that it is wonderful to be back on the program side of EAA working on the Young Eagles, Eagle Flight, and Flying Start programs.
Prior to my time on staff, I was deeply involved with EAA. I have attended ‘Oshkosh’ every year since I was born. My years always centered on our family trip to Camp Scholler, and days spent going through far too many rolls of Fuji film as I snapped photos of P-51s, SpaceShipOne, and Concorde. Neither of my parents were pilots — simply two enthusiasts who supported their son’s passion for aviation. Both are now Lifetime members of EAA. My mother is a chairman of AirVenture Evening Admissions and my father volunteers his time to support chapter events during AirVenture.
While in college I joined EAA Chapter 1342 in Grand Forks, North Dakota, where I spent one term as Young Eagles coordinator and two terms as chapter president. This chapter give me my first exposure to being a boots-on-the-ground Young Eagles volunteer. Although still early in my aviation journey, life has certainly come full circle. From Young Eagles participant, to pilot, then Young Eagles volunteer, and on to a role at EAA working on the program on a day-to-day basis.
My first few weeks with the Young Eagles team have been spent becoming acquainted with the many functions of the Young Eagles team. A large part of that onboarding has involved the rollout of the new Young Eagles Digital Signature app, which is now available in the Apple App Store for iPads that run iOS13 or greater. Charlie Becker, Don White, and Mitchell Kolosso did a great job developing the app, which will allow chapters to operate totally paperless at Young Eagles rallies. Learn more about the app and training ›
As we approach year end, the Young Eagles team will be focusing on a number of other priorities. These include revamping the Young Eagles webpage to simplify user navigation, updating the training videos for YoungEaglesDay.org, and, believe it or not, preparing for the 30th anniversary of the Young Eagles program!
Although it feels as though we just celebrated the 25th anniversary, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022 will mark the 30th anniversary of the first Young Eagles flight. To commemorate the 30th anniversary, EAA will be rolling out a number of pilot, volunteer, and chapter programs. These programs will be designed to incentivize participation, recognize those who have made a lasting impact on the program, and those special Young Eagles success stories. In addition to the year-round programs, Young Eagles will be a primary theme at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022, including Young Eagles Day on Thursday, July 29. Keep an eye out for more announcements about what activities will be in store for the week of Oshkosh.
As we look forward to 2022, I challenge you to consider how you can grow your involvement in the Young Eagles program. This doesn’t necessarily mean flying more kids, although that is always welcomed! Perhaps it is inviting a new pilot to participate in the program to help grow the flight leader community, scheduling one additional Young Eagles rally for your chapter, or simply spending a few more minutes talking with a youth and their parents when there is that extra special sparkle in their eyes. No matter your involvement, it will be vital to continue your support if we hope return to pre-pandemic flight operation levels. We are projecting a 50 percent decline in flights versus 2019, but the goal is to use the 30th anniversary as a launching pad to standard Young Eagles activity levels.
To round out this month’s message, I wanted to say ‘thank you.’ Thank you for keeping the Young Eagles program active during a difficult 18 months, and thank you for your continued dedication to introducing the next generation to the magic of flight! Your support is what drives the success of the Young Eagles program.
David Leiting, EAA Lifetime 579157
Eagles Program Manager