Thursday, July 12, 2012

Young Eagles Day provides 169 free plane rides to youths this year

From Ludington DAily News:  Young Eagles Day provides 169 free plane rides to youths this year

“It was awesome,” Justice Tingay said as she climbed out of a plane piloted by George Roth.
The 15-year-old Free Soil girl had her first flight Saturday during Young Eagles Day at the Mason County Airport.

Nine pilots volunteered, providing free flights to 169 children.

“I was really scared,” Tingay said of her emotions before the experience.

Once the plane was up in the air, though, she took in the sights and relaxed.

“It was beautiful,” she said. “You could see the rivers and how small everything looks.”

The Young Eagles program offers free flights to children ages 8-17 in the hope of inspiring some to consider aviation in their future.

Not only did Justice get a plane ride, so did her sister Brianna, age 8, and her brothers, Alex, 14, and Andrew, 12.

“It was fun. I got to steer the plane a little,” Andrew said.

Alex said the experience was “pretty cool.” At first he didn’t know what to think but said he enjoyed all he could see from a bird’s-eye view, noting there were more trees than he expected.

Tammy and Mike Stone of Grand Rapids brought their boys, Corbin, age 14, and Jake, 12, to Ludington Saturday specifically for the Young Eagles rides.

“I just thought they should try one,” Tammy said.

Josh Meisenheimer, age 10, of Ludington, took his fourth Young Eagles ride Saturday, brought to the airport by his grandparents Joe and Phyllis Meisenheimer.

Joe has an ultralight he enjoys flying.

“It was bumpy,” Josh said of his ride Saturday, “but I saw a lot of stuff. I recognized Oriole Field.”

Barb Bennett of Ludington brought two grandchildren, Ryan and Rachel of Kingsley, to the airport, meaning a third Young Eagles flight for Ryan, age 14, and a second for Rachel.

“It was fun. I liked how we got to go around Lincoln Lake and all around and along the shoreline,” Ryan said.
Rachel said she came back for a second year “just for the fun of it.”

Her favorite part was the view of Lake Michigan from the air.

Pilots from both Mason and Oceana counties donate the time for the program, with the two pilots’ associations helping each other out with their respective Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles programs.

Their experience ranges from military wartime to recreational pilots, with the one retired commercial airline chief pilot, George Roth, age 86.

Among those serving were 10 Young Eagles pilots, but not only does the program take pilot volunteers, it takes ground crew help as well — in all about 30 people giving of their time.

All of those involved are volunteers and they cover all the costs as well, including fuel.

“It takes a lot of work and time and planning by many volunteers to get this done every year,” said Bob Taylor, president and coordinator of the Mason County Pilots Association. “Fortunately for me, the Mason County Pilots Association is not like other clubs or groups where you only have a few that do all the work. Everyone pitches in to help make this event a success every year. We have great people here and in Hart that do a fantastic job, come up with ways to do things better and are more than willing to do more than just pay lip service to the organization.

“I am very proud to be president and coordinator for the Mason County Pilots Association and very proud to have the people in our association that we have. All are hard workers and very smart people. I would be lost without them. They give of their time, minds, and wallets to make my job an easy one.”


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