Young Eagle Jay Almanzar grins from ear to ear after his flight in Mark Peebles’ 1946 Fairchild 24, great restoration of this airplane

Article and Photos By Ted Luebbers

On Saturday, October 15, the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534, based at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, Florida, introduced 13 new Young Eagles to the pleasure of flight.

This is a free service that Chapter 534 and all National EAA chapters offer young people ages 8 to 17. The purpose is to expose kids to the wonder of flight by flying them in small general aviation aircraft.

The hope is that this experience will plant an aviation seed that will one day take root and create new private pilots and possibly an interest in the Aerospace industry.

There are also many other areas of aviation they could become interested in such as aircraft mechanics, flight management, avionic repair, or possibly building their own airplane.

EAA Chapter 534 V.P., John Weber, explains basic aerodynamics and pre-flight procedures using his Kit Fox.

To this end, EAA Chapter 534 has an aviation youth group called Squadron 534, which will work with young people nurturing any aviation interest they may have. Over the past few years this chapter has been lucky enough to have three of their youth group acquire Ray Aviation Flight Scholarships to help pay for flight training to earn their  Private Pilot’s license.

The Squadron 534 Youth Group meets on Saturdays in the chapter hangar at the airport. They work with adult members to learn the proper use of tools, basic aerodynamics, help to build and work on real aircraft.

The Young Eagle Rallies start with registration at the hangar followed by, a demonstration of the aircraft pre-flight, then an introduction to their pilot. They are escorted to the ramp to board the plane they will fly in by their pilot. 

Flights typically last 20 to 30 minutes and if the passengers live close to the airport the pilots will fly over their home so they can see it from the air. At some point during the flight the Young Eagle sitting in the right seat will be asked if they would like to try flying the plane.

 If they decide to give it a go, the pilot will explain how to control the plane and let them take the controls under their watchful eye.

It is interesting to see all the smiles on these young people when they land and deplane. Those that actually flew the plane note that they thought it would be harder than it was.

Upon completion of the fight, it’s back to the hangar to collect their Young Eagle Flight Certificate, and official log book, all signed by their EAA pilot.

EAA Chapter 534 President, Steve Tilford, explains the use of the elevator on his plane to Jacob Hudson.

This will also entitle the Young Eagle to a free online Shorty’s Learn to Fly Course, free admission to 300 science and technology museums, and an opportunity to join the Chapter 534 aviation youth program, Squadron 534.

This is a great opportunity for a young person who has ever expressed an interest in aviation to further explore it.

This is all free to the Young Eagle. The chapter provides qualified mentors, educational materials, and the Young Eagle pilots provide their own planes and fuel.

EAA Chapter 534 pilot, Mark Peebles, flew Young Eagles in his restored 1946 Fairchild 24.

 On this day chapter pilots provided six fixed-wing, single-engine general aviation aircraft.

For further information about the Experimental Aircraft Association and EAA Chapter 534, go to the following websites,  and .

For those that may be interested in the aviation youth program, you may contact Marty Harris at  or John Weber at

Previous article“No One Comes To Me By Coincidence, God Sends Them To Me For A Reason, ” Says Kenny.
Next articleNew Dedicated Education Unit Provides Lake County Nursing Students with Unique One-on-One Learning Opportunity