Young people prepare to take flight Sunday as the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 892 is offering free rides to experience Madison County in a whole new way — from 2,000 feet in the sky.
Young Eagles Day, held twice a year, with flights leaving the Central Kentucky Regional Airport is offered to children ages 8-17.
"The pilot will point out landmarks on the ground. Kids get really excited seeing family farms, their schools and their homes down below," said Roger Jones, association secretary and former president, adding that after the about 20-minute ride, participants are awarded a certificate and a code to complete a free, online flying course. This, Jones said, is a wonderful opportunity for youth interested in pursuing aviation as a career.
Sparking an interest is the purpose of the event, Jones added, whether a child becomes interested in aviation as a profession or as a hobby. While aviation is alive and well in Madison County, thanks to the airport and Eastern Kentucky University's flight school, the nation is experiencing an shortage of pilots, making it a valuable trade to pursue.
"We want to introduce young people to flying and make it assessable," he said.
The term "experimental" within the association's name, Jones assured, only denotes that the aircrafts are not commercial, but rather small, two to four-seater planes.
"Many people have never ridden in an airplane that small," Jones said. "It seems like a big adventure."
Jones said the association has chapters across the country, which hosts similar events and have done so for more than 15 years. Through the program, more than two million children have enjoyed such rides. During the upcoming weekend, about 60-100 kids are expected to fly.
The Experimental Aircraft Association was created after WWII for pilots that still wanted to fly after the war, according to a history provided by Jones. To this day, those that join enjoy flying and appreciating aircraft they have built, small aircraft, and sometimes antique planes, such as the 1932 biplane that may be on display Sunday.
Young Eagles Day will be held Sunday, Oct. 14 (pending good weather conditions) from 1-4 p.m. at the Central Kentucky Regional Airport. Children must be accompanied by an adult and a liability waver signed before riding in the aircraft.
Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.