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Young Eagle, Younger Pilot

January 28, 2015 - It’s not often that a pilot flies a Young Eagle who is older than him. After all, 17 is both the minimum age to obtain a pilot certificate and the maximum age to be eligible for a Young Eagle flight, so any age difference is a matter of months at most. But that is exactly what happened when 17-year-old Luke Lachendro, EAA 21131, gave a Young Eagles flight to Zach Braun, who is just three days his senior.

Lachendro said a friend had suggested the idea to him months ago, but that he didn’t commit to making the flight a personal goal until recently, giving him only two and a half weeks to find the right candidate before his 18th birthday.

With the help of some friends who work with high school students, Lachendro was introduced to Braun, and on January 23, flying his family’s 1949 Piper PA-16 Clipper out of Hartford Municipal Airport in Hartford, Wisconsin, gave a Young Eagles flight that is one for the books.

Manager of EAA Young Eagles and Eagle Flights Brian O’Lena said Lachendro is living the aviation dream and commended him for achieving this unique accomplishment.

“It’s great to see Luke willing to introduce young people to aviation and help them discover the joy and excitement flying brings to people,” O’Lena said.

Lachendro said he flew over the basilica at Holy Hill, Braun’s house, and the local race track where Braun races cars before he handed over the controls and let Braun get his first taste of what it’s like to fly an airplane.

“I informed him yes, indeed, he was flying the airplane, and the smile on his face stretched wider than the world,” Lachendro said.

While this was not the first Young Eagles flight Lachendro has given, he said he always enjoys the feeling he gets when he is able to share his love for aviation with children and other young adults his age.

Lachendro, an avid member of both EAA and EAA’s Vintage Aircraft Association, was recently profiled on VAA’s site as a featured “Youth in Action.”  

His next goals are to fly to 15 new places in Wisconsin within the next year and to take up some pending offers he has to fly “very cool” antique airplanes. Here at EAA, we have no doubt he’ll do all that and more.

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