Something extraordinary happened at the Santa Ynez Airport on Saturday morning. Ninety-six teenagers from organizations throughout Santa Barbara County took flight behind the controls of an airplane, thanks to the men and women of the Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez chapters of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
On a crystal-clear morning on the tarmac waited 21 EAA pilots and their aircraft, eager to show the nervous and excited teens, many of whom had never been beyond their neighborhoods, what the world looked like from a different point of view.
For plane enthusiasts it was a unique display of aircraft. Piper Arrows, Cessna 172s and 182s, RV-7, Cessna 205, Piper Comanche, Cessna 140, Symphony, Cessna 150, Piper Cherokee, Cessna 170 and Aeroncas filled the sky as the youth went up with one attitude and came down with another. Heads held high, the new aviators watched as their logbooks — donated by Sporty’s Pilot Shop — were signed, signifying that that they had flown an airplane.
“This is a safe way to get high!” Jenny exclaimed after her flight.
By noon it was easy to see that it wasn’t just the students who had experienced something special. Counselors, teachers, mentors, parents and grandparents were all inspired by what they had witnessed. It was a perfect example of organizations coming together to provide an empowering experience for our youth.
In all, 42 men and women from the EAA donated their time, talent and money to take students on airplane rides. Two flight schools from Santa Barbara also donated pilots and aircraft for the event: Above All Aviation and Red Baron Aviation.
Participating organizations included A Different Point of View, American Charities Foundation, SafeLaunch, Santa Barbara Airport Future Flyers Program, Santa Ynez Men’s Mentoring Group and the Vandenberg Air Force Base After-School Program.
Meanwhile, 96 students were transformed into potential aviators, thanks to their experience with the Young Eagles program.
“In 1953, EAA began leading the way in promoting the joy and freedom of flight for future generations.”(EAA) I am here to report that our Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez chapters continue to do just that.
— Lynn Houston represents the Santa Barbara Airport Future Flyers Program.