EAA Chapter 14 -- Brown Field (KSDM) - 1409 Continental St. - San Diego, CA 92154-5707
Salute to Young Eagle Pilots

EAA 14’s Young Eagles program rightly concentrates on introducing young people to the joy of flying.  But none of this would happen without our Chapter volunteers who selflessly donate their time and planes to literally get the program off the bound.  Recently a few of our young Eagles pilots shared some information.  

What made you interested in the Young Eagles program?

Mark Albert: “I have been watching the YE program for years and as a newly certified pilot I am feeling comfortable with flying YE’s and sharing the fun.”

Jerry Boughner:  “I like to give people rides and I especially enjoy the kids – they really appreciate it.”

Dennis Cullum:  “It’s a good excuse to fly!”

Pete Grootendorst:  “After I retired as a Law Enforcement Pilot, I worked as a flight Instructor for the San Diego School system, teaching 15-18 year olds to fly under a Magnet Program.  I enjoyed teaching youths and naturally gravitated to the Young Eagles Program.”

Frank Himmerich:  I became interested in the Young Eagles program after I became fully retired and was looking for something to do with my airplane.  After getting involved with several different charitable programs, I settled on flying Young Eagles on a regular basis.

Gil Rud:  “I read about the program in the EAA magazine, and then witnessed it in action here at Brown Field.”

Ron Shipley:  “I’ve always loved airplanes.  I would have loved having met a pilot who would have voluntarily taken me for a flight when I was a child.  I feel it’s my duty to share my good fortune with youngsters who probably feel as I did.  My flying club, the Armed Forces Aero Club, has an annual event called “Kids Day” in which we take around 70 youngsters up for about a 20 minute flight.  For many, this is the first time they’ve been in a “small aircraft.”  The looks on their faces make our day!

How long have you been flying Young Eagles?

Mark Albert:  “I just started last week!”

Jerry Boughner: “About 5 years.  I’ve taken up about 279 Young Eagles in about 69 flights.”

Dennis Cullum:  I flew Young Eagles from 1992 to 2007 and flew maybe 350 kids – 1 at a time.”

Pete Grootendorst:  “12 years.”

Frank Himmerich:  I flew my first Young Eagle in 1997 and have flown over 650 kids since then.”

Gil Rud:  “Two years.”

Ron Shipley: “As an AFAC member, I was invited to participate at an EAA Young Eagle flight at Ramona Airfield perhaps 20 years ago.  That was a unique flight until I purchased the Aircoupe two years ago.  I began flying Young Eagles at Brown field about a year and a half ago.”

What planes have you used flying Young Eagles?

Mark Albert:  A Cessna 170 tailwheel, which is new for most of the kids.  They are accustomed to tricycle gear planes.”

Jerry Boughner:  My Tiger Moth and my Bonanza.

Dennis Cullum:  Piper Tomahawk.

Pete Grootendorst:  “Grumman AA5, Piper PA 28-140”

Frank Himmerich: Piper Cherokee 235.

Gil Rud: “I have flown 75 Young Eagles in my Cirrus SR22.”

Ryan:  “Grumman Yankee, Grumman Lynx, Grumman Traveler, Piper Tomahawk, Piper Cherokee, Glasair, E-Racer, Long-EZ”

Ron Shipley: “My Aircoupe and, as an AFAC member, Cessna 172’s.”

Are there any experiences with Young Eagles that stand out in your mind?

Mark Albert:  Only the ones other pilots tell me about kids getting sick.”

Jerry Boughner: “Only one kid ever threw up.  He was in the back seat and had been fine the whole trip, but it happened just before we touched down.  I felt something hit my head and then saw the explosion all over the instrument panel.”

Dennis Cullum: “I’m just grateful no one ever threw up.”

Pete Grootendorst:  Several Young Eagles that I flew with have now signed up for a Private Pilot Course at First Flight and I am teaching them.  Also, we had a group of Native Americans from Alaska.  Although these kids had many hours in light aircraft being ferried between villages, they were very attentive and seemed to enjoy themselves immensely.”
Frank Himmerich: Although most of the Young Eagles I have flown were flown out of the Brown Field and Borrego Springs airports, I have also flown them several times in other places such as Utah and South Dakota when I was visiting there.

Gil Rud:  “The things they say are the most entertaining. Upon returning from a flight, the tower switched us from the long runway to the short one on final, which resulted in a rather steep approach. A young man riding in the back asked very politely, “Sir, should we be bracing for a crash now?” The question gave me the giggles so we did in fact have a less than perfect landing.”

Ryan:  “I took up a young girl who previously had not wanted to fly, even though her sister and cousin had both gone up multiple times and loved the experience.  Finally she decided she would try it.  Sitting atop several pillows so she could clearly see, we had a great flight – the air was calm, the sun was out and when she came back, she told everyone, “It was so-o-o-o- beautiful.”

Ron Shipley:  “The really young children always leave a positive memory with me.  Last Saturday I took up a 6 or 7 year old who thoroughly enjoyed the flight.  He scared himself when he pulled back on the yoke but quickly recovered when I explained what happened.”

What do you enjoy most in flying with or interacting with Young Eagles?

Mark Albert:  I enjoy sharing aircraft and flying knowledge and watching the kid’s interest grow.”

Jerry Boughner:  “If they feel like it, I like giving them a thrill – and as part of the procedure they almost have a little feeling of weightlessness.  My own kids loved it and the last time I flew 3 little boys who said “do it again, do it again!”  If they want to fly, I also let them fly the plane (totally safe because of dual rudders).”

Pete Grootendorst:  “Being able to provide a new experience in their lives.”

Frank Himmerich: Since I don’t have any grandchildren of my own, I get extra enjoyment just being around and chatting with the youngsters who are looking forward to a flight.

Gil Rud: “I enjoy witnessing the reaction of those that have never been in an airplane. Most are a bit apprehensive at first, but once they get a chance to actually control the airplane, they really enjoy the experience.”

Ron Shipley:  I enjoy the enjoyment the Young Eagles express.  I hope most of them continue to enjoy flying and actually pursue this enjoyment as they grow older.”


Other Young Eagles Pilots