In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the EAA Young Eagles program in 2017, we’re featuring 25 Young Eagles whose stories inspire and exemplify the impact of the program.
February 16, 2017 – Tristan Briggs, EAA 1085192, got his first taste of flight in a GA aircraft when he received a Young Eagles flight in 2011.
“I was kind of interested in aviation from a young age,” he said. “[The flight] really showed me that it wasn’t something that was out of reach, that it was a possibility.”
Tristan said that flight and the Young Eagles program were vital to his continued participation in the GA community; after his flight, he went to ground school and was able to take the written private pilot exams for free, thanks to the Young Eagles program, and is now a member of the U.S. Air Force.
“Without the benefits of the Young Eagles program I never would have been able to get my private pilot license in high school,” he said.
After receiving his certificate in 2014, Tristan almost immediately started flying others giving 15 people their first GA flight just two days later. It wasn’t until last year that he began flying Young Eagles partly, he said, because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to as a freshly minted pilot.
“I thought that you had to have like 750 hours or something,” he said. “I talked to a guy at an EAA booth and asked ‘How do those Young Eagles pilots do it?’”
Since then, Tristan has flown a total of 18 Young Eagles from a small GA airport with a grass runway and a “pack of airport dogs.” He said his favorite part of the being a Young Eagles pilot is the reactions from the kids.
“I love to see their faces light up,” he said. “They forget all their worries as they’re taxiing out through the grass and the dogs and then all of a sudden they’re flying.”
In addition to flying Young Eagles, Tristan said he also works with local Boy Scout troops and gives presentations at the middle school to educate more young people on the accessibility of general aviation.
“People have this view of aviation as nothing but TSA and air conditioned terminals,” he said. “They’ve got this idea that you have to have the white shirt and the tie to be a pilot. Aviation is a very American thing that you don’t have to be special or go through a special program to do.”
If you or someone you know has a Young Eagles story to share, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share your Young Eagles photos or video with us on Twitter and Instagram using #YoungEagles25.