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2 Million and Counting

Young Eagles

By Barbara A. Schmitz

July 28, 2016 - If you’re a parent whose child has had a Young Eagle flight, you know the importance of getting a picture of your son or daughter with the pilot.

But the pressure was especially high for Jodie Gawthrop’s parents to make sure it was a good, make that a great, photo on Thursday.

 Gawthrop, EAA 1108302, of Westchester, Illinois, officially became EAA’s 2 millionth Young Eagle in a flight flown by actor Harrison Ford, chairman of the Young Eagles program from 2004-2009.

“It was amazing,” the 16-year-old said after her flight with Ford above Wittman Regional Airport. “It was just wonderful.”

She said the two talked mainly about the aircraft, a de Havilland Beaver, the pattern and the air show. “He’s really enthusiastic, and I could tell that he loves flying. We share that passion.”

Gawthrop has been on-site this week, but the flight allowed her to see the convention from a different perspective. “You see aircraft after aircraft going by on the ground, but it’s not until you’re up there that you realize how big this event really is.”

A junior in high school, Gawthrop first fell in love with flight through the Civil Air Patrol’s cadet orientation program in 2013. She has been working AirVenture with the CAP’s National Blue Beret this week, and is considering pursuing a military career.

In addition to Gawthrop’s flight, former Young Eagles Co-Chairman Jeff Skiles flew the 1,999,998th Young Eagle, Braeden Edbert, 10, of LaValle, Wisconsin, and current Chairman Sean D. Tucker flew the 1,999,999th, Owen Wrolstad, 13, of Oshkosh. Fred Stadler, the EAA member who has given the most Young Eagles flights at 6,500, gave the 2 millionth-plus one flight to Annalee Wrolstad, 11, also of Oshkosh. 

The four pilots who flew the milestone Young Eagles all praised the volunteer pilots and EAA chapter members everywhere who have made the program so successful. “Every pilot had a part in this achievement,” Stadler said, “and the impact has gone beyond the Young Eagles to their families.”

Jack J. Pelton, EAA CEO and chairman of the board, said this milestone shows how committed the organization and its volunteers are to making a difference. “I think this program will stand the test of time, and hit 3 million quickly.”