Kyle Thede, EAA 853537, like so many other fortunate children, caught the aviation bug from his grandfather, who gave him his first airplane ride at age 6.
“It was just something that I was drawn to,” Kyle said.
Once that spark is lit, there’s no putting it out, as the average EAAer can likely attest.
Kyle stayed involved in aviation and learned about the EAA Air Academy from EAA Chapter 129, and he earned a scholarship that allowed him to attend in 2008.
“It was an encouraging, kind of exhilarating thing to be around all these people just as excited about this stuff as I am … and we can talk about it and be excited and not bore each other with it,” he said.
His participation in the Air Academy would end up changing his life in a big way.
“I know that played a big role in my taking a much more serious interest in aviation and aerospace topics through the final couple years of high school, that was something that I really focused on and paid attention to,” Kyle said.
Later in life, while working on his master’s degree at Wright State University, he got a job combining both of the things he had grown to love: aviation and public history.
“I ended up working at a National Park Service site there in Dayton that celebrates the Wright Brothers, so it was something that I got to be professionally involved with,” Kyle said.
These days Kyle works at the Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, primarily with the museum’s space camp.
Kyle said his time at the academy helped him realize his passion could become his career field.
“It was definitely something that put me on that path in a permanent way,” Kyle said. “[Aviation] is something you like to read about, this is something you like to learn about and teach others about, and you can do it for real. There’s all kinds of other people out there who care about [aviation] and want to learn about it too.”