EAA Young Eagles Day - Brakpan- Benoni Airfield 25.02.2023
By Willie Bodenstein
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The Young Eagles Flights organised by Chapter 322 and hosted by the Brakpan Flying Club was the first rather largish event of 2023 and hopefully not the last of this laudable initiative. Forty-four kids between the ages 8 to 17 years old registered. However, fifty-one had their first flying experience being flown by thirteen pilots in aircraft ranging from an ex-military Aťrospatiale Alouette III helicopter to a Vans RV8.
Launched in 1992, the Young Eagles program has dedicated 30 years to giving youth ages 8-17 their first free ride in an airplane.
It's the only program of its kind, with the sole mission to introduce and inspire kids in the world of aviation.
On 13 May 1992, following several months of coordination by EAA's then-President Tom Poberezny and members of the EAA Board of Directors, management, staff and volunteers, the Young Eagles Program was unveiled at a Washington, D.C. news conference.
The mission of the EAA Young Eagles Program is to provide a meaningful flight experience - free of charge - in a general aviation aircraft for young people. Flights are provided at no charge by EAA members worldwide.
The initial goal of the program was to fly one million children prior to the 100th anniversary of flight celebration (17 Dec.2003). That goal was achieved on 13 November 2003. An ongoing annual goal of introducing 100,000 young people to the Young Eagles experience has been established.
In March 2011 EAA reported the results of a study on the program that showed that program participants are 5.4 times more likely to become a pilot than those who never participated and that 9% of those new pilots are female, an increase of 50% compared to the general population of pilots, which is 6% female. The study also indicated that the older a child is when taking their flight that it is the more likely that child will become a pilot, with two out of every 100 participants who are 17 years old continuing to complete a pilot certificate.
As at 25 February 2023, worldwide, 2,300,506 young people have enjoyed a free introductory flight through the Young Eagles program. These flights are made possible through the generosity of EAA member volunteers.
The volunteer pilots on Saturday were Sean Cronin, Derek Hopkins, Rob Osner, Karl Jensen, Tarryn Myburgh, Neil Bowden, Brian Appleton, Edzard Verseput, Grant Raubenheimer, Roger Bozzoli, LD Van Essen, Mike Puzey, Charles Fuller and Brian Cilliers.
Thanks also need to go the good people of the of the Brakpan Aeroclub for hosting the event and especially to Lida Kotzee, Jeanne-Michele White, Zoe Fuller, Sonica Van Der Schaar, Cherry, Flo, Glen, Gladys and Joice who managed to serve more than 100 scrumptious breakfasts. Also, to the HAMNET crews who assisted with the marshalling keeping the event safe. A huge thank you to Apie, Glen, Riaan, Gary, Charles, Rob, Hilton, Kobus, Sam, Marius and Trevor for their participation and support as well as the Chapter 322 members who were instrumental in organising the event especially Marie, Warren and Ronell.