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Chapter 2 Celebrates its 60th Anniversary
By Brett Hahn, EAA Chapter Manager, EAA 647675
October 12, 2016 - Mark Beck is the current president of the iconic EAA Chapter 2, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
“Being at the helm of Chapter 2 is such an honor,” Mark said. “It is a quite a responsibility to carry on the legacy that Paul Poberezny … and our chapter founders like Les Zeher started.”
EAA and Chapter 2 have made big difference in Mark’s life. The sense of family and community is strong here, and Mark adopted the EAA culture as his own early on, learning to fly, and later building a Van’s RV-6A. Now he and his wife, Barbara, fly recreationally all over the Midwest, favoring grass strips along the way.
Chapter 2 started with a handful of founding members in 1956, but all have sadly passed except for prolific homebuilder Les, EAA 869, who is still active in the chapter. Chapter 2 members now include three generations of pilots, CFIs, A&P mechanics, homebuilders, and aviation enthusiasts from ages 8 to 80.
Now celebrating their 60th anniversary, more than 100 members turned out at Smith Field. Mark commented during his presentation that 10 years ago their airport was slated for closing and redevelopment, until Chapter 2 members and the surrounding neighborhood stood up and opposed the city’s plans, stopping the demolition and redevelopment.
As a result of revitalizing Smith Field, Chapter 2 has also grown to more than 110 members. A community college now has a technical campus operating an A&P program, there are aviation support companies, and new taxiways and hangars have been built.
“Helping to keep this historic airport from closing forever was a great accomplishment for Chapter 2 members,” Mark said.
Chapter 2 also has had a strong Young Eagles program since 1992, when EAA started the effort. Chapter 2 has a squadron of more than 75 Young Eagles pilots at the ready, with 10 to 12 tapped to help out at any one rally. Young Eagles rallies at Chapter 2 are open-house style, with lots of learning activities for guests and 30-plus ground volunteers helping out.
Chapter 2 has six pilots who have flown 500-plus Young Eagles missions. One of the pilots is David Resler. His current Young Eagles missions total 1,750.
“Our Chapter 2 volunteers have given almost 8,700 local kids their first flight, and many have joined our chapter; some have gone on to the EAA Air Academy, too,” said Laramie Resler, Chapter 2 Young Eagles coordinator. “We are also very proud of the fact that Chapter 2 has quite a few pilots who have given more than 1,000 Young Eagles flights.”
One Chapter 2 Young Eagle is Angela Bougher, who is still in high school and employed at Sweet Aviation. She is a Civil Air Patrol member, is working on her private pilot certificate, and in 2015 attended the EAA Air Academy in Oshkosh.
Laramie continued, “Our chapter membership has increased because of Young Eagles. It’s a domino effect; we take kids flying, they are bit by the aviation bug, they want to get more involved, the parents have to bring them, and our chapter grows. We have had many of our Young Eagles become pilots, some are in flight training now, and others have plans to be as soon as they are old enough. Another benefit is that some parents have taken flight training as a result of bringing their kids to a rally. The Young Eagles program is doing what it was designed to do: encourage kids to be involved in aviation.”
Three generations later, Chapter 2 is still making a difference.