Article and Photos by Ted Luebbers
The Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 based at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg,
Florida hosted a very successful Fly-In and pancake breakfast on Saturday, September 28.
It was a perfect day for flying without a cloud in the sky, and no wind to worry about. Ideal Florida flying weather.
Breakfast consisted of blueberry pancakes, sausage, coffee and, of course, Florida orange juice. Costs paid by donation.
The Chapter runs these breakfast fly-ins, and sometimes lunches, as fundraisers for the chapter’s Aviation Youth program to help pay for the materials needed for the various aircraft projects the kids are building.
As usual, a good time was had by all. pilots, aviation enthusiast, chapter members, and Aviation Youth members got to meet and greet many folks with a common interest in aviation. People got a chance to get up close and personal with many different types of aircraft and swap stories about airplanes and flying. This kind of activity is called “hangar flying” and is enjoyed by those bitten by the flying bug.
After the hearty breakfast attendees were shown the building projects being worked on in the EAA hangar and some were given a demonstration of the two flight simulators maintained by the chapter. These are used by both the adult and youth members of the chapter.
Because EAA Chapter534 is a 501-C3 non-profit organization, they have been fortunate to be on the receiving end of donated funds, aircraft kits, tools and damaged airplanes in need of repair. The planes are built or repaired to flying status, then sold. Any profit made is used to keep the Aviation Youth program moving ahead.
EAA Chapter 534 currently has a dozen Aviation Youth members who show up each Saturday morning to work alongside their adult mentors to learn aircraft building skills, what makes an airplane fly and various other airmanship topics.
The long-range hope EAA has done this is to create a spark of interest in aviation with these young people so that when it comes time for them to select a career, they may decide to become a pilot, aviation mechanic, or enter some other aspect of aviation.
Currently, the aviation industry is suffering a loss of pilots and aircraft mechanics due to retirements and aging out. Over the next twenty years, there will be many job openings in the aviation field and these young people will be in a position to take advantage of this situation.
On this day 32 airplanes of various types flew into Leesburg so their pilots and crews could enjoy breakfast and visit with chapter members. Many additional folks who lived nearby drove in. All in all, it was estimated that about one hundred people turned out for the EAA Chapter 534 Fly-In / Drive-In.
EAA Chapter 534 appreciated the large attendance from EAA Chapter 288, Spruce Creek, the flying community at Daytona Beach Florida. Three of their planes gave a smoke oil fly-over in tribute to the event.