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Off to a Great Start
By Joey Schimnich, EAA 1132038
March 31, 2016 - My Young Eagles journey began by going to an EAA meeting, which is where I met Mark Priglmeier. He gave me my first Young Eagles ride on November 30, 2013. I was 16 years old. From that point on you could say my interest in aviation took flight. From the moment we left the ground, I had a huge smile on my face. I felt happy and completely disconnected from my troubles on the ground, while at the same time I began to feel more grounded in where my passion should be. Mark taught me a few basic flight maneuvers and let me line the airplane up for the final approach. From that point he took over.
After the Young Eagles ride, I was given a logbook with the Sporty's Learn to Fly Course access code on the back. I accessed the course and completed it in March of 2014. Along with the Sporty’s Learn to Fly Course, I read the Gliem Private Pilot FAA Knowledge Test book, parts of the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, and the Airplane Flying Handbook. With the information that I learned in four months’ time, I took the private pilot written test and passed with a score of 90 percent on March 24, 2014. I sent my test scores to EAA headquarters and they reimbursed me in full for the cost of the test.
After completing my written test, I got involved in restarting the Young Eagles program at the St. Cloud Airport. At the time, a Young Eagles Rally had not been held at St. Cloud for three years. I thought having a rally was essential to growing the membership within the club, especially among young people. With the support of my mother and the help of Wade Nelson (Young Eagles coordinator at the time) and many volunteers we got the program reinstated at St. Cloud. I advertised the first event at my school on my Facebook page, by word of mouth, and by sending e-mails to anybody who had questions about the event. In the end, we had a very successful event. We had 14 pilots who flew about 60 Young Eagles, and there were no problems with the tower.
The first rally was set up so well that we put on another one that same year, and continue to do two rallies a year at the St. Cloud Regional Airport. We have also seen an increase in membership as well. In fact, it has doubled in just two years! When I joined there were about 35 members. Now, there are around 70 members in EAA Chapter 551! Hosting Young Eagle rallies lets the community know that EAA Chapter 551 exists, we are making efforts to educate people about aviation and explain what EAA is about, and the rallies show the community and our own members that this is an active, vibrant organization.
That same summer, I attended EAA’s Advanced Air Academy in Oshkosh. I received two partial scholarships to attend the camp, which together covered the entire cost. One from EAA Chapter 551 and another from a sponsor at EAA headquarters. I learned about simple airplane construction and participated in basic ground school among many other activities. In the shop, I got to build a wing rib, a spark plug holder, a clipboard, and I learned how to weld. My parents own a cabinet shop, so I do know my way around tools, but each project was a new experience for me.
Sometimes when I go to fly-ins, I run into campers or counselors that were at Air Academy. I have become great friends with many of them. We also started a Facebook page to stay in contact with each other. Truly, the best part of the camp was the camaraderie among everybody at the camp. It was a great experience and one that I will always remember.
The very last step in EAA’s Young Eagle Flight Plan is to receive a scholarship for flight training. I applied for a few received one: The Harrison Ford Flight Training Scholarship offered by EAA in the amount of $1,500. I put it toward flight training during the summer of 2015.
My goal for flight training was to get it done in less than three months. I started actual flight training on June 14, 2015, and received my private pilot license on September 2, 2015. My goal was achieved, and I felt great knowing that if I put my mind to anything, I could do anything.
After getting my private pilot certificate, I have gone to a few fly-ins, logged 100 hours before the end of 2015, and passed my instrument written test in preparation to get my instrument rating this summer before I head off to college this fall.
I am accepted to attend Northland Technical and Community College to get an associate degree in applied science and aviation maintenance technology. I would also like to go to the University of North Dakota to get a bachelor’s degree in aviation technology management. I also plan to get further ratings and endorsements in airplanes and helicopters.
Recently, I became EAA Chapter 551 co-coordinator for our Young Eagles program. I will be involved with the planning, coordinating, and flying during the events this year. So far, I have given two Young Eagle rides and plan on continuing to give more in the future. My favorite part of giving Young Eagle flights is seeing the smiles on their faces. This is what makes me want to participate in this program. I have started a website called “Private and Beyond” to document my training, show what fun can had in aviation, and to help any other aspiring pilots or A&P mechanics with questions that they may have related to aviation and my experiences.