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.
Brad Batesole had aspirations of becoming a pilot from a young age so taking a ride with the Young Eagles program was a natural fit for him.
“I remember the pilot easing everyone’s anxiety and wrangling the three of us into his low-wing aircraft,” Brad said of that first flight. “My friends had nominated me to sit copilot and I’m sure I smugly spouted off my knowledge of every instrument as we buckled in.”
Prior to that flight, which was Brad’s first in a GA aircraft, Brad said he felt his dream of becoming a pilot was impossible but taking the controls of that Cherokee changed his perspective.
“That flight was incredibly special to me. It solidified in my mind that this goal was achievable. … That pilot’s compliments of my flying skills gave me a renewed sense of self-confidence.”
Now, nearly 15 years later, Brad owns a 1969 Piper Arrow and is an active pilot flying Young Eagles himself.
“I’ve volunteered every chance I’ve had,” he said. “From the aviation perspective [Young Eagles] is a great way to educate and inspire youth on all the aspects of flying and the recreational or vocational opportunities.”
Brad’s interest in aviation started as a child watching aircraft high above his school playground and building model airplanes with his dad but in today’s modern world he encourages young people to try a more technological approach to exploring aviation.
“Join various online pilot forums and watch YouTube,” he said. “There’s so much great content on YouTube from the AOPA, EAA, FAA, and individual contributors. … But nothing beats being around it in-person, and if you keep showing up people will share their interest with you.”
He also had some words of encouragement for those people who share their interest with young people.
“I know as a volunteer the days can get hot, the air bumpy, the kids rowdy, and you may go home curious if you’ve made a meaningful impact,” he said. “But, these experiences stick with the kids in more ways than we realize. … It doesn’t matter if that landing wasn’t perfect, if the radio is acting up, if it’s hot and someone just cut you off in the pattern. To the passengers, it’s perfect.”
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.