2012-08-28 / Front Page

Young Eagles to soar during flight rally

Event offers free airplane rides to youngsters interested in learning about aviation

Monroe Township resident Bob Hartmaier will be helping youngsters enjoy flying at a special Young Eagles event in October.

Hartmaier, a retired American Airlines captain and the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 315 Young Eagles coordinator, along with his colleagues, will be taking youngsters up in private planes, at a flight rally on Oct. 6 at Monmouth Executive Airport, Route 34, Wall Township.

Those ages 8 to 17 are welcome to take a flight at no charge. In the past, about 30 to 50 youngsters have attended each event.

However, “It’s not just a free airplane ride,” he said, adding that the pilots also explain how airplanes fly, how the controls work and how they ensure passenger safety.

He said up to three youngsters can go on a flight, depending on how large the plane is. He said his 1946 Piper Cub, which he restored in 1995, can carry two passengers.

The reaction to the 20-minute ride is fairly universal, he said.

“They just kind of get so awestruck,” he said. “[There are] big smiles on their faces.”

During the flight, he said, he will ask the youngster where his or her house is and will try to do a fly-by if the location is within reason.

Following the flight, each participant will receive a Young Eagle flight member certificate, and his or her name will be entered into the World’s Largest Logbook, which is on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis. The October flight rally, and other rallies like it that are held throughout the year, are part of the EAA Aviation Foundation’s ongoing Young Eagles Program that was started in 1997 to encourage youngsters’ interest in aviation.

Hartmaier said his own interest stemmed from his father and uncle’s passion for flying.

“I just kind of fell right into it,” said Hartmaier, who also has an extensive military flying background.

He said the EAA’s original goal was to provide one million youngsters with an airplane ride by the end of 2003, to coincide with both the 100th anniversary year of powered flight and with the EAA’s 50th anniversary. That was quite a success, he added, and the mission continued.

Parents should note that at the flight rally, each youngster is required to have a registration form signed by a parent or legal guardian. Forms are available ahead of time. In addition, parents and other visitors may be able to take a flight if resources are available.

Also, Hartmaier said, “Sometimes I’ll take a parent if a child is a little unsure.”

Those interested in becoming a Young Eagle flight member but are unable to attend the Oct. 6 event can contact Frank Fine at 848-469-0604 or search EAA’s website (www.eaa.org) for a Young Eagles coordinator in the area.

The rain date is Oct. 7, which will also be used if the weather on Oct. 6 is too windy or too overcast.

Hartmaier said a program for adults that mirrors the goal of the Young Eagles program is in its early stages of development.

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