A Windy Day at Leesburg International Airport Did Not Deter Young Eagle Flights

A cold front had moved through the Leesburg, Florida area on Friday night and that caused the wind to pipe up the next morning with a forecast of higher gusty winds as the morning progressed.

As a result, all of the light sport aircraft and pilots of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 kept those light planes in their hangars at the Leesburg International Airport. Discretion and safety being the better part of valor.

However, that didn’t deter the chapter’s pilots with the heavier aircraft, and the Young Eagle First Flight program went off without a hitch but some bumpy rides on Saturday April 20,2019.

Kids and parents convened at the EAA hangar at 9 a.m., filled out the necessary paperwork then the Young Eagles were first treated to a helicopter ride in Hans Vosseler’s jet turbined powered Eurocopter.  He is able to fly five young people at a time so as soon as he landed those kids were then assigned to another chapter pilot who took them up in a fixed wing general aviation aircraft.

On this day the chapter flew 13 Young Eagles and two adult Eagles. Chapter 534 produced 6 volunteer pilots and their personal aircraft. There were five fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter provided. There is never a charge for these flights as all pilots volunteer their time and aircraft. There were eight other chapter members processing the paperwork escorting people to the flight line and answering questions about EAA projects going on in the hangar.

As the morning wore on the wind got stronger and gustier so that about 10:30 a.m. Joel Hargis, president of EAA Chapter 534 and chief pilot, suspended flight operations erring on the side of safety.

All the Young Eagles had the opportunity to fly in the helicopter but a couple of them missed out on the fixed wing experience. Those kids were invited back to try again next month.

EAA has been doing the Young Eagle Flights nationally through their local chapters for over 25 years and have flown over two million young people during that time.

The reason for doing this is to acquaint young people about the wonders of flight and inspire them to one day continue on to become private pilots and/or seek aviation careers.

Each Young Eagle is given a commemorative certificate and log book signed by the pilot they flew with. They are given a free on-line ground school course they can access if they wish to continue on to take the Federal Aviation Agency written exam to qualify for a pilot’s license. These flights are open to young people ages 8 to 17.

To make reservations for young eagle fights contact your local chapter’s Young Eagles coordinator. The person to contact for EAA Chapter 534 is Jodie Soule’ at jodiesoule@gmail.com.

If you want to find out more about EAA or Chapter 534 you may go to the following web sites. www.eaa.org or www.534.chapter.org