Young Eagles to fly again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Free aircraft flights will again be available for area youngsters at the Albert Lea Airport as part of the national Young Eagles program, according to local pilot Paul Stieler.

The free flights will take place from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 14, with a rain date of Sept. 21.

This will be the eighth year the free flights are being offered as a special educational promotion by area members of the Vintage Aircraft Division, Chapter 13, of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) of Oshkosh, Wis.

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Stieler said 802 area youngsters have participated in the Young Eagles flight program during the past six years. He added that in 2001 there

were 182 youngsters taking aircraft rides.

Stieler, one of the pilot-participants in the flights, said the aircraft trips over the Albert Lea area last about 15 minutes. He commented that the Young

Eagles seem to enjoy the bird’s eye observations of the city and its lakes from the air, plus seeing exactly where they live and go to school from a different perspective. He suggested that those coming out to the airport for the rides should bring along cameras.

The planes will be piloted by EAA members as part of a national program designed to help the Imagination of youths take flight.

Information from the Oshkosh-based organization says, &uot;The mission of the EAA Aviation Foundation’s Young Eagles Program is to provide a motivational aviation experience; focusing on a demonstration flight in an airplane.

“Our goal is to reach one million young people by (Dec. 17) 2003 – the dawn of aviation’s’ second century and 50th anniversary of EAA. … These flights are provided free of charge to any youth wishing to participate.”

The EAA and its divisions have already given more than 813.078 free aircraft rides to Young Eagles in the nation during the past seven years.

At the end of the flight, each participant will receive an Eagle Flight Certificate signed by the pilot, plus the Young Eagles honorary chairman, retired general and former astronaut Chuck Yeager. Stieler added that a set of flight wings will also be given to each new Young Eagle this year.

Then the Young Eagles’ name will be entered into the “World’s Largest Logbook,&uot; which is maintained at-the EAA Air Adventure Museum in Oshkosh. Also, a special complimentary issue of EAA’s “Sport Aviation for Kids” magazine will be sent to each new Young Eagle.

This program is open to all area youths between the ages of 8 and 17. A registration form must be filled out before the flight is taken, and the permission of a parent or guardian by signature is also required.

Those wishing to take part in the Young Eagles Flight Rally can sign up at a table which will be set up near the airport’s main hangar.

For more information about the Young Eagles program, contact Paul Stieler at 377-2291, or the Albert Lea Airport at 373-0608.

Participating pilots in this year’s Young Eagle flights will include Jim Hanson of Clarks Grove, Chuck Sandager and Jon Lamphier, both of Albert Lea, and Dale Folkerts of Rudd, Iowa.

Stieler said Elks Lodge #813 of Albert Lea has again given funds to publicize and support this program.