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Why I Volunteer for Young Eagles

Tom Letts, EAA Lifetime 524085, EAA Chapter 301 Young Eagles Coordinator

April, 2023 –

I have flown 119 kids since 2009 and have enjoyed each and every flight. Like most pilots, I have a few Young Eagles flights that stand out. I flew a young girl, and after I started the engine I asked her if she was okay. Her answer every time I asked her throughout the flight was, “This is really scary.” After we landed I asked her again, to which she replied, “That was the scariest thing I have even done, can we do it again?” You never know how a Young Eagles flight will affect a youth.

In 2009 I took a young man by the name of Wilson on a Young Eagles flight in a Diamond DA-40. I explained to Wilson that the Diamond had a stick vs. a yoke, and I said to him “you know like what a jet fighter has.” Even with the cushions, Wilson was not tall enough to see out the front of the airplane so I wasn’t sure if he had fun.

Seven years later Wilson’s father contacted me to let me know Wilson had signed a letter to attend the United States Air Force Academy. At the time of the signing, Wilson had 100-plus flight hours. His father told me if it had not been for that Young Eagles ride, Wilson would never have had any interest in aviation.

This is why I fly Young Eagles and became a Young Eagles coordinator for EAA Chapter 301. It brings me great joy when I hear the stories of the impact that the Young Eagles flight made on a youth.

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