Have you ever wondered what it's like to fly?
Fourteen local youth participating in the new Young Eagles program in Wallowa County had a chance to find out Saturday, Sept. 27, when they were invited to take to the sky by the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
The 14 youths between the ages of 8 and 17 flew out of the Joseph Airport with pilot Kent Byerly of Canby, the son of Iris Hamm of Lostine.
The half-hour flights took two youth at a time over the valley, and allowed one of them to sit at the controls and have the experience of flying the plane. They learned that flying in an airplane is safer than many other forms of recreation.
The Young Eagles program is sponsored by the EAA Aviation Foundation, a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to the discovery and fulfillment of individual potential through personal flight. The Young Eagles program began in 1993 with the goal of giving free flights to one million youth in 10 years. As the end of the 10-year mark arrives, the goal is only 25,000 short, and well within reach of the organization. Each Young Eagles flight takes place in a FFA registered airplane flown by a licensed pilot and the flights are conducted according to federal regulations.
Before each flight the Wallowa County youth were instructed in safety, the different parts of the plane, the four basic forces of flight and the instrument panel and controls in the cockpit. Then it was flight time.
First to fly were Nathan and Bryce Leggett of Wallowa. Marshall Cox and Taylor Soares of Wallowa enjoyed finding their homes from the air. Marshall, who got to fly the plane, says he would recommend the front seat to everyone.
Kasey King of Wallowa took the controls on his flight with Cameron Princena of Lostine. Benjamin Brainard flew as a rider in the plane with his father, Dean Brainard. This was not Benjamin's first flight in a small plane, but it was Dean's. Dean said "the view was great, a really enjoyable experience. You get a very different perspective from the air. Except for a slight case of nausea, it was perfect."
The last flight of the day was taken by Sievers, with Shane at the controls and Cheyenne and Tyrell as passengers. Cheyenne was happy to be a last minute addition to the Young Eagles program. She enjoyed seeing her home and school when they flew over Wallowa.
"Everything looks different when viewed from above" was a comment heard after each flight.
Eight of those who flew were members of the Wallowa Boy Scout Troop 450, along with Kasey King, Cheyenne Sievers, Kian Shahim and Joradan, Bethany and Naomi Manley. The Boy Scouts are working on their aviation merit badge. Over the past 10 years the EAA helped many Scouts compete the merit badge requirements.
The EAA has over 170,000 members in 50 states. They are aviation enthusiasts of every age group and profession, including many airline and commercial pilots. They enjoy all types of airplanes, including "experimental" aircraft, which is a category of airplanes designed by FAA but built by individual craftsman instead of on a factory assembly line.
The EAA would like to bring more Wallowa County youth into the Young Eagles program.
If you or someone you know is between age 8 and 17 and would like to take a demonstration flight in a private airplane, learn the principles of flight, have your name listed in the World's Largest Logbook or just have a great experience, then EAA's volunteer pilots would like to give you the chance to join the Young Eagles program. They will be returning to Wallowa in the near future. Check out the program on their Web site at www.youngeagles.org.
(Editor's note: This story was put together by the young people who took part in the Young Eagles program.)