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Teen Flies With Tucker in Tribute to the Grandfather She Never Knew

  • Sean Tucker with Brianna Lee Ringen
    Sean Tucker with Brianna Lee Ringen after their Young Eagles flight Thursday morning in Minnesota.

June 25, 2015 - Sean D. Tucker, chairman of EAA’s Young Eagles program, provided a first flight to Brianna Lee Ringen, 15, of Butterfield, Minnesota, on Thursday, June 18, in advance of his performance this weekend at the Minnesota Air Spectacular at the Mankato Regional Airport. It was much more than just a flight, as Brianna wrote in her winning essay, “What a Ride In An Airplane Would Mean To Me.”

She wrote that the Young Eagles flight would be her first in an airplane and that she’s been fascinated with airplanes all her life. But she really wanted to make the flight in tribute to her grandfather, Les Young, who flew in the Air Force and South Dakota Air National Guard, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel with the Fightin’ Lobos.

“When my mother was 15 years old, the same age I am now, he was on a training mission at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico,” she wrote. “It was too foggy to fly and he was being driven back to base, when the driver pulled out in front of a semi-truck. He was killed instantly.”

Although she never knew him, Brianna heard lots of stories about his love of flying, and her mother said he was happiest when he was in the cockpit. “I would love to experience what made him feel so happy,” she wrote, feeling it would help her to connect with him.

Gates for this weekend’s Minnesota Air Spectacular open at 9 a.m. June 27-28.

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