It's called Young Eagles, where children ages eight to 17 can take a free flight, and it's part of the Experimental Aviation Association.
"An industry that has 62 different career fields is going to need to attract a lot of people to become qualified in the different career fields and become our aviation industry workers of tomorrow," said local EAA Publicity Coordinator Cecil Money.
The Young Eagles program began in Wisconsin, and its primary focus is to give young people the background to take off in aviation, landing jobs that impact the future of the industry.
"The child may be in the 8th or 9th grade, but if they don't know about this wonderful opportunity in general aviation industry, then they don't know that they can begin tailoring their studies," Money said.
Volunteer pilots teach kids the basics of flying planes, like the Cherokee aircraft piloted by EAA Chapter 1358 President Danny Cherry, who took WDHN's Valencia Jones on a flight to see firsthand what the children experience. The program also gives participants hands-on experience by letting them take control of the plane for a short time during the flight.
The pilots volunteer their time and provide their own planes, and the organization also depends on contributions from businesses to fund the program. But piloting is just one aspect of the program. Money said they also want to inspire children to pursue other aviation jobs, becoming aircraft mechanics, air traffic controllers and other skilled workers.
"The most important thing is to get them the chance to see what this is all about, and to realize how much engineering, math and science is required,” Cherry said.
Organizers say the program lets children know the sky is the limit when it comes to achieving your goals, and parents and other family members are also encouraged to participate.
The program will host events during National Aviation Week from September 15th through 20th. Anyone interested in aviation can also attend their B-17 program in November.
For information on the Young Eagles program or how your business can make a tax-deductible contribution, you can call the local EAA chapter at 334-618-7288.
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