From Young Eagle to Young Eagle Coordinator

From Young Eagle to Young Eagle Coordinator

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.

Unlike many pilots and aviation enthusiasts, Joey Schimnich didn’t fall in love with flight after his first airplane ride.

“I was 7 years old when I received my first airplane ride,” he said. “This is not what sparked my interest in aviation but it was definitely fun. … I remember flying over my house and seeing what it looked like from the air. My house is less than a quarter mile away from a grass strip and I would see planes land and takeoff out of the airport all the time so my parents arranged to get me and my sister a ride.”

Nine years later, Joey, EAA 1132038, took a Young Eagles ride, his second airplane ride.

“A family friend invited my dad and I to an EAA meeting,” he said. “At first I didn’t want to go, but my dad convinced me to go and I am sure glad I did. The members were very welcoming and even recognized my dad and I as visitors and continued to make us feel comfortable. After the meeting was finished, I met my soon-to-be CFI whom I took my Young Eagles ride with and would eventually receive my private pilot license from.”

Today, at just 20 years old, Joey is a private pilot, CFI, and is attending school to become an A&P. He’s also very involved in the Young Eagles program.

“I am a Young Eagles coordinator for EAA Chapter 551 out of St. Cloud, Minnesota and I fly Young Eagles any chance I get,” he said. “In fact, right after passing my CFI checkride, I flew back to St. Cloud — the airport where it all began for me — and gave one flight of three Young Eagles.”

Joey said that although he enjoyed that first flight in a general aviation aircraft, his Young Eagles ride and that first EAA meeting are what really encouraged him to get involved in aviation.

“EAA and Young Eagles is the way to open the gates into aviation for people who would not normally have an opportunity to enter the grand world of aviation,” he said. “The gates were once closed for me but they were opened by one friendly invite that changed my life.”

If you or someone you know has a Young Eagles story to share, e-mail us at You can also share your Young Eagles photos or video with us on Twitter and Instagram using #YoungEagles25.

Read all 25 for 25 stories here >>

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Katie, EAA 1186406, is an avid aviation lover and learner and assistant copy editor in EAA publications.