This article first appeared in Fort Lupton Press by Belen Ward
Students had a chance to open their wings of possibilities in the world of aviation.
Twenty Fort Lupton Middle School students received their Young Eagles certificates May 5 at the Greeley-Weld County Airport.
Darrel Dilley was a pilot for United Airlines until he retired in 2018. He’s been a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association since 1974. He has been volunteering for the Young Eagles program since his retirement.
“I got involved with the program to teach kids about the different parts of the plane, the instrument panels and on how it flies. I like seeing the smiles on their faces and, for some of them, it’s their first time on a plane,” said Dilley.
Jim Brown has been a United Airlines pilot for more than 30 years. He started with the Young Eagles program a year ago. A friend told him about the program and its need for volunteers.
“The first time, I had so much fun showing the kids the plane that I fell in love with the program. It shows the kids opportunities of flying and what they can achieve. When I take them up in my plane, they have smiles of excitement and fear too,” said Brown
Fort Lupton Middle School teacher Barb Miles organized the event with Brown and Dilley, plus 10 certified pilots from around Weld County.
"The purpose was to get the kids involved in something outside the school and give them more hands on that is more explorative. Also, it gets them out of Fort Lupton. It was wonderful to see the kids after the trip because, before the trip there was terror in their eyes. But after they got off the planes, it was like night and day. A lot of parents and their relatives got to go and fly with the kids. So yes, it was worth it," said Miles.
The Young Eagles program started in 1992, introducing kids to aviation from the ages 7 to 17. After the student arrived at the airport, a power presentation explained the basics of flight aeronautics. Then the kids took a ramp safety lesson. After that, it was time for the kids to team up with pilots.
“It was amazing how some of students personalities’ are matched up with pilots naturally” said Brown.
The next stop is boarding planes. lessons about preflight, the instrument panels, engines, the propellers, take-off and landing. Then, it was time to go into the air. The students got the opportunity to fly the plane themselves.
“At first, they didn’t want to touch the controls. But after a while, they built confidence and took control flying the plane. Sometimes they didn’t want to let go because they were enjoying it so much,” said Brown.
“My pilot had a specific older plane that is not made any more. So instead of a normal tail with two side rudders, its main tail is basically in a shape of a “V”. It shakes too much with the wind,” said student Kevin McGrew. “It was easy to fly and the pilot was surprised I did so well. I flew the plane most of the time. Yes, flying is something I would pursue.” “My pilot told me stories. It was inspiring for me,” said student Kaidyn Taylor. “He told me he’d always wanted to fly since he was 10 years old and didn’t start flying until he was 40. It was something I could look forward to in the future. We also flew an older plane called the Super Cub, it was designed in the ‘40s.
“We flew around Eaton, and I messed with the pedals. It was euphoria, it was the best thing that has ever happened to me. At first my leg was shaking, but once I got ahold of the controls, it was easy. It’s definitely something I would like to do.”
“I flew a Cessna plane. Both my pilot and his wife are pilots. He was really nice. My dad flew with us too. When I was flying the plane at first, the radio was sitting too high, so I couldn’t see over it. But I flew the plane. My dad said he almost fainted because I was turning the plane. It was fun and exciting. Yes, I would like to fly a plane,” said student Joseph Quiroz-Hernandez.
“It was cool. My pilot was really nice. He showed me the outside and inside of the plane. I did fly the plane for a while. My mom and her friend got in the plane with me. My mom got dizzy. It was a good experience and I would like to fly a plane in the future, “ said student Alexa Perez.
The EAA makes the program possible.
All the pilots in the program have to take youth protection training. After the flights, the students received certificates and a logbook noted with their flight hours. In addition, they received a personal code to activate a free EAA membership and the Sporty’s online learn to fly course. If a student takes three lessons, then the EAA gives them a free flying lesson. Also, the EAA has a scholarship program.
“The program gives them the path for careers in aviation. When I was 14 years old, I had a friend take me up in a plane. It was such a great feeling from that day on. I knew it was what I wanted to do. I like giving back by spreading the passion I’ve experienced,” Brown said.
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