EAA Chapter 1342 has become known for being unique. Located in Grand Forks, North Dakota, the chapter is near the University of North Dakota, one of the country’s largest aerospace universities.
A group of UND students who were hoping to become more involved with youth outreach in the local community founded Chapter 1342 in 2002. The number one goal of the chapter was to expose local youth to aviation through EAA’s Young Eagles program. Since the chapter’s inception, members have flown 1,875 Young Eagles. However, in its 15 years of existence, the chapter has expanded to encompass all aspects of EAA. It now hosts a successful hog roast campout (check out the video below), multiple educational field trips, hands-on programs, and an annual trip to Oshkosh. Even with the expansion of chapter activities, nearly all of the members are between the ages of 18 and 25.
On April 30, the chapter hosted its first Young Eagles rally of the year at the Crookston Municipal Airport (KCKN) in nearby Crookston, Minnesota. With blue skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, the families and airplanes came out in droves.
The University of Crookston Aviation Club, another local group of millennial aviators, served pancakes to the pilots and attendees. After enjoying one of the best pancake breakfasts that northern Minnesota has to offer, the kids were able to take part in a number of hands-on activities. Chapter members taught the youths the ins and outs of an aircraft cockpit and how the airport traffic pattern works, and showed them how aircraft controls work by allowing them to fly a simulator.
Once headed to the flightline, there was an Aeronca Champ, Cessna 150, Cherokee Six, Piper Warrior, and two Cessna 172s available for the youths to ride in. Chapter members, all under the age of 25, piloted the Young Eagles aircraft. Receiving an introduction to aviation is always a special moment for children, but when the introduction is given by a young adult pursuing a career in aviation, the dream of becoming a pilot seems much more attainable.
The Young Eagles rally also welcomed nearly 30 transient aircraft. With one of the first good flying weekends of the year, local pilots flocked to enjoy pancakes and show off their aircraft to the families in attendance.
By the end of the event, Chapter 1342 had flown 51 Young Eagles. However, the most recent rally was just a start! The chapter will be collaborating with EAA Chapter 380 in Grafton, North Dakota, on May 7 for another Young Eagles rally and fly-in. In addition, the Great Lakes chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) will be hosting its annual conference in Grand Forks on August 3. As a special treat for the families in attendance, Chapter 1342 will be hosting a Young Eagles rally the weekend of the event.
Whether it is gifting the spirit of flight to the local community or exposing university students to the grassroots passion, Chapter 1342 is proof that The Spirit of Aviation will be alive and well for generations to come.
Check out the 2016 Chapter 1342 Young Eagles rally in this video!