DuBois Boy Flying High in Clarion

CLARION, Pa. (EYT) – Jeremy Fisher, of DuBois, joined the friendly skies of Young Eagles when he co-piloted an airplane at the Clarion County Airport last month as part of the Clarion County Airport National Aviation Day and annual Air show.

“My son learned about the aviation career field, toured the airport, conducted a preflight inspection, and co-piloted a Cessna 150 N16105 aircraft with Pilot Roderick Stevenson from Georgia,” said proud mother Tina Fisher.

The Young Eagles is a youth program operated by EAA, the Experimental Aircraft Association, and Chapter 94 in Clarion is active in promoting the program giving youth a lift up to the sky.

“When Jeremy went up, that was the day of the airport open house, and we had three boy scout troops, a cub scout troop, and several individuals,” said Young Eagles Coordinator Jeff Shay, of Knox.  “About 39 kids flew that day, and that’s a big day for us.”

Jeremy’s name and the other 39 participants were permanently entered in the World’s Largest Logbook at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

“When they come over, we’ll have a preflight inspection and show them the parts of the airplane and explain how things work,” said Shay. “We try to give them a little tour of the airport and talk a little bit about the operations at the airport. Some of the older kids may be interested in a career in aviation and the different areas available, and some of the younger ones could care less because they want an airplane ride and that’s all.”

EAA is an international aviation membership association founded in 1953 and headquartered in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Local chapters like Clarion are located in all 50 states and many countries. Members are aviation enthusiasts of every age group, including many airline and commercial pilots, engineers, business people, and even astronauts. They enjoy all types of airplanes, including “experimental” aircraft, those aircraft built by individual craftsmen, rather than in a factory. “Experimental” refers to the category of aircraft designed by the FAA for these types of airplanes. Similar to standard category aircraft, experimental aircraft are inspected and certified airworthy by FAA.

The EAA Young Eagles Program was developed in 1992 to welcome young people into the world of aviation, and Clarion started its program in 1996.

Young_Eagles_(emblem)“When the Young Eagles were launched, the plan was to get one million kids in the air nationwide by 2003 which was the hundredth anniversary of the Wright brothers first flight,” said Shay. “Nationwide we got about 1.8 million and climbing. So, they made their million, and they’re still going. We’ve flown over 800 from the Clarion County Airport. That’s a lot of takeoffs and landings, and we brought them all back so far. We never left anyone stranded up there.”

Young Eagles flying opportunities are scheduled throughout the year and often centered on youth groups, but individuals also have an opportunity to register, and events are advertised in newspapers and on radio.

“We have registration forms at the airport. They can also contact EAA Chapter President at the airport at 226-9993. We have three or four times a year that we’ll advertise, and people can just come in without the registration as long as they have a parent to sign the waiver. They can go right there without the advance sign up. We do days for groups like church groups and scout troops. We’re scheduling the home school group now, as soon as we can get everyone on the same page together.”

All of the workers are volunteers, and no one is paid.  EAA Chapter 994 meets the third Thursday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Clarion County Airport.  The EAA is open to anyone with an interest in aviation, and you do not have to be a pilot.

The EAA also holds a breakfast fundraiser each year on the first day of the Autumn Leaf Festival.  Proceeds of the breakfast are used to fund programs such as the Young Eagles.  This year the breakfast is on Sunday, September 21, at the Clarion County Airport and tickets are available at the door.

“There’s a lot to do with the Young Eagles,” said Shay. “Once you do the flight, the kids receive a logbook, and there’s and access code, and they can go in and get a “learn to fly” course that is a $200.00 value for free.  There are also some free admissions to different science and technology museums throughout the country and electronic copies of the magazine. There are some scholarships available if they are interested.  A lot of big corporations are looking to expand careers in aviation, and there’s scholarship money available for flight training if the applicant would qualify.”

Shay is a pilot at the airport, but doesn’t have his own plane, but there are planes available for rent.  Clarion pilots who do have their own planes donate their time and aircraft for the kids.

Shay enjoys taking youths up for their first experience as a co-pilot and the thrill it gives them.

“You take these kids up, and a lot of times they are nervous and a little bit scared, but once they get off the ground, they see that it’s quite an experience,” said Shay.  “You’re able to offer them something that most people thought was totally out of reach.”

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