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Building the Future of Aviation

By Randy Epstein, EAA 833410

April 13, 2016 - EAA Chapter 690 has recognized that their pilot population has been getting older. With that in mind, they decided to launch a youth program to help continue their participation in aviation.  Since 2012, the chapter has provided a one-week summer camp for youth age 12-18. The opportunity to expand on this became central to the chapter as it moved forward.

The first venture was to begin a free ground school for youth age 14 and older. The chapter launched this effort in March 2015, and has a core group that comes once a month to learn information that will help them with their FAA Private Pilot written exam. 

Chapter 690 then decided to expand upon that program and teach aircraft construction. The chapter found an Ultralight Pietenpol project that was partially completed and we purchased it last summer. The fuselage was mostly completed as well as the wing ribs. The chapter put together a mentor group of chapter members with wood and fabric airplane experience and last October they met with the youth for the first time.

The group met initially every other Saturday for three hours. After time that was expanded to every Saturday for four hours. The youth spent many hours sanding wing ribs before really getting started on the wings. The wings have taken shape and should soon be ready for varnishing and covering. The vertical and horizontal stabilizer as well the elevators and rudder are varnished and await fabric.

EAA Chapter 690 is looking to expand this program and has other projects sitting ready to work on. Much of this has been possible because of the recent donation of a hangar and its contents by Larry and Laura Bishop. Larry and Laura are long-time members of the chapter with Larry having served as a past president and Laura having spent many Saturdays helping with the kitchen crew for our pancake breakfasts. Their generous donation to the chapter has given this program a home. The chapter board of directors recently voted to name the hangar the “Bishop Education Center,” a truly fitting name.

A key part of the build program is crediting these young adults with $7.50 an hour for each hour they put in on the project. The credits can be used for rental of a Cessna 150 owned by the AeroVentures flying club at our airport. AeroVentures has several CFIs in the club that have offered to donate instruction time. The chapter will pay for the airplane rental using the credits the youth have acquired working on the project. We look forward to turning some of these younger folks into pilots.

Our next target is to get a simulator program started that will allow the youth to get virtual experience before moving on to real flying. 

We, indeed, are “Building The Future of Aviation.”

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