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Five Tips for Improving the Young Eagles Flight Experience – Part 3 of 5

David Leiting, EAA Lifetime 579157 Eagles Program Manager

January 18, 2022– 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. 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. All of this planning is critical to a successful Young Eagles rally.

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 fight experience at your chapter’s next rally.

Five Tips for Improving the Young Eagles Flight Experience

  1. Fly One Young Eagle at a Time
  2. Involve the Young Eagle in the Aircraft Walk-Around
  3. Provide a Thorough Passenger Briefing

Giving a Young Eagles participant a thorough, yet friendly passenger briefing will go miles to ensuring the youth is prepared for the flight. Here are a number of items pilot should considering including.

Show the Young Eagle how to properly enter and exit the aircraft. This includes where to step, what to grab a hold of, and how to operate the door/canopy.

Once seated, explain to the youth how the seat belt system works. If the harness is a more complicated system, such as a five-point harness, it may be beneficial to have a parent listen in, so they can help secure and tighten the safety belts for their child. As PIC, the pilot should still verify the belts are properly secured.

After getting the youth situated, show them how to properly wear their headset. Proper headset fit will drastically improve the comfort of the flight. Having the youth’s parents nearby may also be beneficial for adjusting the headset. Explain to them that if they can hear themselves through the headset, then the pilot can hear what they are saying. If needing to maintain a sterile cockpit during any phase of the flight, pilots should explain they may ask the Young Eagle to stop talking during important radio transmissions. It may also be worth noting that only the people within that airplane will hear the youth talking. Often, youth may think that ATC or other aircraft on frequency can hear them talking.

With the Young Eagles participant comfortable situated, now is a good opportunity to remind them one last time to speak up if they are uncomfortable or nervous at any point. Something such as “One last reminder. If at any time you are feeling uncomfortable, nervous, or feel like you want to land, please let me know.” This is a great way to let the youth know you can return to the airport at any time, especially if they are nervous or start feeling sick without planting the airsickness seed.

Check back next month as we discuss conducting a thorough passenger briefing for Young Eagles participants.

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

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