Poll: Has The Young Eagles Program Been A Good Idea?


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  1. A good idea, but still in the development stage. It’s one thing to introduce kids to aviation–quite another to actually train and allow them to develop into pilots, mechanics, and other aviation careers.

    To be effective, there needs to be FOLLOW-UP–no “here’s your ride, Kid–maybe we will see you next year. Giving a ride is the EASY part–the follow-up requires commitment–both from the sponsor AND the kid.

    Sporty’s generous offer of ground school has been snapped up by thousands–it not only keeps them involved, but gives them actual training–moving them along on their path to becoming pilots.

    Perhaps the best example of KEEPING kids involved might be found in Iowa–where for the past 40 years, a group of glider pilots (they call themselves “Silent Knights”) has been providing not only rides, but almost FREE flight training to kids. Unlike an airplane, NOBODY flies a glider by themselves–gliders require someone to bring them out of hangar–(some, stored in trailers, require assembly)–they require someone to get them out and put them together–someone to wing-walk and tow them to the flight line–someone to run the tow rope-someone to watch for other traffic-someone to run the wing for launch–someone to retrieve and reposition the glider for another launch. All of these require PREPARATION, TRAINING, AND COMMITMENT–valuable things for any pilot to have. Gliders can be launched behind a vehicle–making it incredibly cheap. A big plus is that gliders can be soloed at 14, and a Private license obtained at 16–and that time aloft can be credited toward a power rating.

    The program requires commitment from both the pilots AND the student–it’s far more than a “here’s your ride, kid.” The result? After all of these years, they’ve trained hundreds of kids–a great number of whom have gone on to aviation careers–and who continue to “pay back” the generosity of the Silent Knights.

    I’ve seen a variation on this theme for power pilots–a group of individuals buys a simple trainer, and makes it available for very low cost (often for only the cost of fuel) for QUALIFIED students–to qualify, a student must be enrolled in or have passed a ground school program–and they must be available to assist other students with getting the aircraft ready for their own training.

    Something “free” is often viewed as “having no value”–but this is a valuable opportunity for kids to explore a career. The common element in each of these successful programs? It requires COMMITMENT–on the part of the student and the sponsoring organization. It’s more than just an airplane ride–it is a “contract”–“if you do THIS, we will do THIS.” That’s good business!

  2. I am a YE Pilot and coordinator for our Chapter. We don’t do the assembly line, YE Days with the apparent goal to see how many kids we can fly in a given day. I prefer the teen with an interest in flying and conducting a 1-1 flight. Starting with opening the hangar door, pulling the airplane out of the hangar to pushing in back in the Hangar and wiping the bugs off and cleaning the windshield off so it is ready to fly the next time.
    That is quality over quantity. I have flown maybe 20 kids that have been introduced in that manner and 3 have gone on to flight lessons and one was selected for the Ray Scholarship and holds a PPL now!
    Pay it forward, we have been given the gift and it would be a shame if we don’t try to spread the experience of the majesty of flight.

  3. Our goal at our airport isn’t to start flight training for YE Riders.. It is to expose kids in all circumstances to the possibility of flight as a career or avocation or just to see the world from a different perspective.. We understand most will just go on to never fly again in a small aircraft, but that is OK. The objective is to turn on the passion for maybe 1 in 50 that might never have considered flying a realistic option for themselves. We do offer followups if kids return or come back and reach out, but the goal of the program is exposure, not calling it an initial flight lesson…