After a decrease in participation for two years due to the pandemic, the EAA’s Young Eagles program has bounced back. The program helps to reach many young people through aviation.
Over 49,000 youths from ages eight to 17 have enjoyed the experience that The Spirit of Aviation brings. The free introductory flight in an aircraft has been made possibly by 4,078 volunteer pilots. In 2022, 1,159 of those volunteers were new to the Young Eagles program.
“We are thrilled to see an increase in the number of pilots looking to help inspire the next generation of aviators,” EAA Eagles Program Manager David Leiting said. “For pilots, the rewards of flying Young Eagles are immeasurable. The only way we get more young people involved in aviation is to have more pilots participate, so the open invitation is always there.”
The program was launched in 1992 and in the 30 years since nearly 2.3 million young people have been inspired by flight and an introduction to a love for aviation. The program stemmed from an earlier program called Project Schoolflight, which was co-founded by EAA founder Paul Poberezny in 1955. The predecessor to Young Eagles ended in 1978 and after a survey of EAA members in 1991, it was found that members believed the primary mission of the organization should be to involve more youth in aviation.
The president at the time, Tom Poberezny, and other members of the EAA, unveiled the Young Eagles program on May 13, 1992. The initial goal was to fly one million children by the 100th anniversary of flight celebration on Dec. 17, 2003, and the goal was achieved by Nov. 13 that year.
A study done in March 2011 by the EAA found that participants in the program are 5.4 times more likely to become a pilot than an individual who had not. Of those participants that become pilots, 9% are female, which is a 50% increase from the 6% of female pilots in the general population of pilots. Older participants are also more likely to continue on the path to obtaining their pilot’s license, with two out of every 100 17-year-old participants continuing to earn a pilot certificate.
Since Aug. 1, 2022, 93 pilots completed the 30 for 30 challenge to fly 30 young people in honor of the program’s 30th anniversary. The challenge will run through July 31, 2023.
The program is presented by Phillips 66 with assistance from Sporty’s, United Airlines, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Garmin, Lightspeed, Academy of Model Aeronautics, and Global Aerospace.
Pilots interested in flying the Young Eagles can look HERE for more information…