In 1992, the Experimental Aircraft Association created the Young Eagles Program and charged it with giving free airplane rides to 1 million young people ages 8 to 17 by Dec. 17, 2003—the centennial of the Wright brothers’ first engine- powered flight.
Based in Oshkosh, Wis., the Young Eagles Program expects to pass the 990,000- flier mark by the end of October. The one-millionth passenger will fly with retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles E. “Chuck” Yeager at a Dec. 17 re- enactment of the historic flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
The Young Eagle flights are organized by local EAA pilots through schools, community groups, and individuals as a way to promote the centennial of powered flight, and to introduce aviation to a new generation. “At the beginning, a lot of people in aviation said, ‘You’re crazy,’” recalls Dick Knapinski, the spokesman for the EAA. “It took off slowly, but has really grown in the past few years.”
More information on the Young Eagles and the EAA’s aviation education programs is available at Young Eagles or at education programs of the EEA.