EAA Chapter 534 pilot Luke Nunez is about to takeoff with his first Young Eagle, Amalie Weaver. Not too many years ago he was a Young Eagle, now he is paying back.

By Ted Luebbers

Luke Nunez, now a licensed Private Pilot, flew his first Young Eagle recently at the Leesburg International Airport in Leesburg, Florida.

This occurred during a regular Young Eagles Rally held by the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 534 at the Leesburg International Airport on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

About two years ago Luke took his first ride as a Young Eagle in a single-engine light plane at this airport. Today as a private pilot he passes on the experience to another young person who is eager to learn more about flying.

EAA Chapter 534 pilot Lee Helfer, and Young Eagle crew Corbin Sloboda, Hayley Hawthorn, and Sophie Ellingson.

His Young Eagle passenger was eleven-year-old Amalie Weaver, a young girl who seemed to have the same insatiable interest in aviation that Luke displayed not so many years ago.

Amalie covets the right seat during the Young Eagle flights so that she can get a chance to try flying the plane under the watchful eye of whatever EAA pilot she flies with.  Luke reported that she got that chance again today and did well.

Luke, the 2023 Ray Aviation Scholarship recipient, earned his Private Pilot License and is currently working on an instrument rating.

He also landed a full-time job at the airport working for Sunair Aviation where he trained.

 Luke’s long-term goal is to become a Certified Flight Instructor and eventually fly for an airline.

Luke was one of eight EAA Chapter 534 pilots who volunteered their time, planes and fuel to fly Young Eagles.

Young Eagle Keaton Maganoll, EAA Young Eagle chapter chief pilot Joel Hargis, and Young Eagle Isaac Willis get ready to fly.

They also had another new pilot today, Roger Sturtevant, who flew Young Eagles for the first time with EAA Chapter 534.

The Young Eagles rallies are repeated in many EAA chapters around the world. These are promoted by the National EAA organization in Oshkosh, WI.

The motivation for these general aviation flights for kids is done with the hope that the experience will kindle an interest in aviation with young people.  Many times, this experience will lead them to become licensed pilots or develop an interest in some other area of aerospace.

Young Eagle Mason McClintock, EAA pilot Roger Sturtevant, and Young Eagle Jaxon Orenzow.

The Young Eagle program is open to any young person age 8 to 17 with permission of a parent or guardian. It is all free.

The kids who take part in these Young Eagle rallies will get to experience the wonder of flight in a single-engine fixed-wing aircraft or helicopter. These flights last between 20 to 30 minutes at no cost to them or their parents.

At some point in the flight, the pilot may ask the youngster if they would like to try flying the plane.

 If they say they would like to try it, the pilot will explain what to do and give them the experience of controlling the plane. This is all done under the close watch of the EAA pilot and they can quickly correct any errors the young person may make.

Young Eagle Gracie Abbott, EAA Chapter 534 pilot Marc Morel, and Young Eagle Jaden Crockwell.

Other free perks the kids get when they become Young Eagles are a commemorative certificate and log book signed by their pilot. They also get free access to a Sporty’s Learn to Fly online course which will prepare them to take the Federal Aircraft Admiration written exam if they wish to learn how to fly.  

If you would like more information about the Young Eagle first flight program you may go to the following website.
< www.yeagles@eaa.org >

On this day EAA Chapter 534 had 15 young people signed up to become Young Eagles.

They eagerly arrived with their parents in tow at the chapter hangar around 9 am, filled out the necessary paperwork, and were assigned to a chapter pilot and plane.

Both the Young Eagles and their parents were given an orientation about what to expect by Joel Hargis, the chief Young Eagles pilot. He stressed that the number one priority of the program is safety and the second is to have fun.

This was followed by a demonstration of how pilots preflight their aircraft before each flight. This was done by Chloe Kadletz, one of the chapter’s Ray Aviation Scholars who has now become a licensed private pilot.

After this demonstration, the Young Eagles headed for the ramp to get in the planes and take off for the wild blue yonder.

EAA Chapter 534 also provided 15 members to be escorts, explain projects going on in the hangar, and handle the paperwork.

For more information about EAA Chapter 534, go to < www.chapter534.org >

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