As thousands heard and saw the planes flying overhead this past weekend, few might have given thought that each one of those pilots had to take their first flight.
This summer, kids ranging from sixth to 12th grade can participate in a weeklong Aero Camp and take their first flight at Double Eagle Aviation, 6961 S. Apron Drive.
The camp is designed to give students a weeklong introduction into the world of aviation and all of its multiple facets, ranging from learning about the flight controls and instruments to radio communications and pre-flight checks.
The camp, which is a member of the Flight School Association of North America, aims to get youth interested in becoming a pilot.
“The big thing is, we are getting kids excited about aviation,” said Jim White, a manager at Double Eagle Aviation. “There’s a severe shortage of pilots and people coming up to become pilots. The statistics for new students is down.”
Of the students who take lessons, 80 percent don’t get their private pilot’s license.
“This is a way to stimulate that growth again and get kids involved,” White said.
Samuel Ragland, the Chief Pilot for Double Eagle Aviation, thinks a reason people are not becoming pilots is due in part to the fact that math and science scores in schools are low. Flying and maintaining a plane requires a lot of both areas of study.
“The kids at this age are normally exposed to their school athletic activities; the soccer, the little league,” Ragland said. “They would never be exposed to aviation that is cost-effective like Aero Camp unless such a program actually existed.”
The basic camp for grades six through eight learn what makes an airplane fly, who flies them, they learn about the controls and instruments, how to conduct a pre-flight inspection, basic radio communications, flight patterns, aeronautical charts, they take field trips to various destinations at the airport and an orientation and logable flight of up to an hour.
For the advanced camp, for grades nine through 12, perform pre-flight inspections, learn advanced information on radio communications, plan a cross-country flight, study FAA written test questions, and flight instruction of two to three hours.
The camp, which begins next month, runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is $375 per week, or $475 with a flight for the basic camp. The advanced camp is $475 per week, or $575 with a flight. A $100 deposit is due upon registration. Campers will also receive a shirt and Pilot Log Book.
After living a life of always wanting to fly, Ragland started flying in the 1980s.
“I had wanted to be in the cockpit of an aircraft and see what it looks like to look out an office window at 10,000 feet,” Ragland said. “I was busy working another career and I never really took the effort to carve out some time. But finally in early 1980, I had a little time on my hands, and for the first time had a little money, and I decided to take my first flight. I have been flying ever since. To this day, I really can not imagine what it would feel like getting up every day not knowing if I would be able to fly again.”
To register, go to www.2-eagle.com or by calling 294-8214.
Adults can also get in on the action and their introductory flight for about $99, by going to www.letsgoflying.com.
The Lets Go Flying program is a learn-to-fly program from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which lets people fly with an FAA-certified instructor.