Conditions were perfect Saturday for a ride in a small airplane. And dozens of young people took advantage of an opportunity to do just that at the Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport.

Members of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 765 of Kingman welcomed youth ages 8-17 to learn about aviation and get a feel for it with a short flight in a small plane.

“The idea is to promote aviation — to make kids aware there’s a whole aviation world,” said Jeremy Keating, airport director. “There’s a pilot shortage.”

The partnership between the airport, Signature Flight Support and pilots from the area EAA chapter is one the airport values highly.

And, Keating said, “I can’t wait to get my kids into these planes when they get older.” 

It’ll be a few more years because they are younger than age 4. 

The youths who did go on the flights listened to Walter Klimach provide a presentation about how planes make their way through the air before going up.

“There are four forces acting on an aircraft: lift, weight, thrust and drag,” he said. 

Klimach encouraged the youths to watch hawks and eagles use their wings. They glide through the air in a manner similar to an airplane. Their wings push air down so the air pushes them upward.

But he pointed out how birds also depend on a push that occurs because of the angle of their wings as well as their curvature. 

These birds have air traveling more quickly above their wings than below. Airplanes use propellers or jet engines instead to move forward. 

Klimach also told the youths it was important they don’t talk a whole lot while the pilot prepares to take off because they need to hear directions from the control tower on how to exit the airport and fly upward.

The youths completed instruction about what they need to do while inside a plane and waited until their numbers were called. They had plenty of aircraft parked nearby to look at. Many of the pilots allowed the youths to climb inside and get a taste of what it might be like to fly. 

One boy was nervous but in a good way, he explained.

“I just want to go up,” said M.J. Desiderio of Bullhead City. 

He pointed to his friend standing nearby.

“He had a pilot party,” Desiderio said.

After his flight, he was smiling broadly.

“I really liked it,” Desiderio remarked happily.

Two other boys were eating pizza, an after-flight treat. Consuming a great deal of food before going up — especially for the first time — might cause an upset stomach. 

“I want to go back up,” said Jacob Tennyson, after finishing a bite of lunch. His stomach seemed to be perfectly fine. “I wish I could cheat the system and go up again.”

Young Eagles was created by the United States EAA. The Kingman pilots participate in this program that allows youths to learn about aviation and, potentially, consider careers in the industry. 

The youths fly for free because the volunteers cover the costs. More than

2 million children in 90 countries have been able to take such flights since Young Eagles began in 1992.

The airport is looking for local businesses and organizations to sponsor a Young Eagle. Contact Joey O’Rourke at 928-754-2134 or JORourke@FlyIFP.com for details.

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