24th annual IYE Day helps promote aviation to young people
Across the country, EAA chapters and EAA-member pilots work tirelessly to secure the future of aviation by offering young people Young Eagles flights. Those efforts will intensify further on International Young Eagles Day, which is always held on the second Saturday in June and falls on June 10 this year. June is the most important month for Young Eagles as anywhere from 12,000 to 15,000 Young Eagles flights are conducted, depending on the weather.
Young Eagles Program Coordinator Michelle Kunes said some EAA chapters hold rallies to commemorate the day, and the focus is all about getting young people up in the skies.
“This will be our 24th year of International Young Eagles Day,” Michelle said. “We hold it to have all of our members focus on one day to take a Young Eagle for a ride. We just find that people, in general, do better if you have a date to focus on.”
The Young Eagles program has given free flights to more than 2 million young people since its inception in 1992. This year is the 25th anniversary of the program and activities will include a birthday cake celebration at AirVenture 2017, special Young Eagles apparel, and a Young Eagles volunteer dinner on July 26 to commemorate those who have made this impactful program such a success thus far.
The celebration is merited because, according to Michelle, many young people would not get to fly were it not for the dedicated volunteer pilots, who are helping ensure that aviation always has a place in the world.
“To me it’s the future of aviation,” she said. “I think that there’s so many things out there for kids to get involved in and we need to keep current and focused.”
EAA is also celebrating the 25th year of the Young Eagles program by holding a volunteer build of a Lockwood AirCam that will be used to give Young Eagle flights upon its completion. The build will occur during a set of one-week sessions, the first of which will take place June 5-9 leading up to International Young Eagles Day.
Although it’s great when Young Eagles feel inspired enough to become pilots after getting their ride, Michelle said there are benefits to the aviation community besides the Young Eagles who become pilots.
“It also helps them see life in a different way,” she said. “Leaving Earth is a big thing, it really is. It’s inspiring. So whether or not they become pilots, even if they just appreciate flight, appreciate airports and support general aviation. It’s all about encompassing the whole realm of aviation.”
Young people, ages 8-17, who have yet to take advantage of the Young Eagles program but would like to can visit the Young Eagles website where there is a helpful resource available to find participating pilots.