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.
Brandon Brown, EAA 1229004, doesn’t come from a family of aviators but he was surrounded by aviation as a child.
“What my dad did do, even though he wasn’t a pilot, was kind of nourish that…love of aviation, love of really airplanes in particular,” Brandon said. “We’d watch movies about airplanes, we loved to watch documentaries about them, and go to museums all around the state. If we’d ever go on vacation somewhere we’d try to find the nearest airport or museum and we’d learn about them, and we’d get books. There was this kind of constant interaction with aviation in my life even though we weren’t necessarily involved in necessarily flying them.”
Brandon said that he was, and still is, afraid of heights and until his Young Eagles flight, he’d been considering an aviation career that would keep him on the ground: aeronautical engineering.
“I’ve been really afraid of heights since I was a little kid actually. I still am which is interesting given the choices I’ve made in the recent years,” he said. “But I guess just that day I felt ready and I wanted to do it and I fell in love with it. It was terrifying and awesome at the same time. And I was hooked.”
After his Young Eagles flight, Brandon said his friends were skeptical about how much flying he actually did.
“They were like you didn’t just press some buttons and then they said you flew right? And no I handled the yoke I actually manipulated it,” he said. “It was such a big moment for me that I feel like I owe it to the community to keep that going.” Brandon said he’s only flown one Young Eagle but plans to give more rides in the future.
Like Brandon, many young people have an interest in aviation but no ties to the community offering them easy access to flight, which, Brandon said, is where Young Eagles comes in.
“The Young Eagles program was my first step into aviation. I always had an interest in it but it wasn’t until the Young Eagles program that I really started taking action,” he said. Brandon took his Young Eagles flight at 14 and by 17 had earned his private pilot certificate and began training for his instrument rating, which he earned a year later. He’s now also certified for commercial drone use and, at the time of writing, was working toward his commercial pilot certificate. Ultimately, he hopes to become a NASA test pilot.
“If your family isn’t in aviation or if you don’t know a lot of pilots or something like that, or I guess even if you do know pilots and you’re experienced, it’s a way to get really involved. It’s a way that you can take the first step. That first step’s always kind of difficult if you don’t know where you’re going. But that was the right one for me and I think that would work for a lot of people. It’s just using the Young Eagles as your first step into the great world of aviation.”
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.