Kids fly free at Moore County Airport on May 4

The local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) will conduct the biannual Young Eagle Kids Fly Free Day on Saturday, Oct. 21, at the Moore County Airport.  

Sponsors will be the Sandhills Fliers, Pinecrest High School Junior ROTC, the Civil Air Patrol and EAA Chapter 1220.  Children, ages 8 to 17, are offered free airplane rides on privately owned airplanes to introduce and educate them on the art of flight.  This event has become a highlight at the airport with local pilots volunteering their time and aircraft to provide an unforgettable experience for the participants.

Video/Sandhills Sentinel.

The Young Eagles program is designed to inspire the next generation of pilots and aviation enthusiasts. By providing children with the opportunity to experience flight firsthand, the program hopes to spark an interest in aviation and encourage children to pursue careers in the industry. It also supports the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) programs in the surrounding county schools.

The event is scheduled between 9 – 1 p.m.   On-site registration is easy, and the EAA asks that parents or guardians accompany their children to the event and stay on-site during the flight. They also recommend that children dress appropriately for the weather and wear comfortable shoes.  Depending on the weather, the number of children and when they arrive, the wait times for each flight usually are under an hour.

“We are excited to host the Young Eagles event each year at our airport,” said newly appointed airport Director Rick Cloutier.  “The spring event had a record number of junior fliers, and we are thankful for our base customers and area pilots that donate their time to provide these flights for the children of Moore County.”

The Moore County Airport Young Eagles event is the latest offering of a program that has been running twice each year since the early 2000s. The local pilot group has flown more than 7,500 children, and each ride also generates “award points” for the EAA chapter. These points have been used over the years to provide scholarships for a dozen local aeronautically enthusiastic high school students to the giant AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh, Wisconsin each July.

“Flying is always fun and always interesting, but the very best days I have ever had in the sky were the days I have been flying Young Eagles events,” said Jim Murray, Young Eagles coordinator for the local EAA Chapter. “We are grateful to the Moore Couty Airport for sponsoring the event and providing fuel for the participating aircraft.”

The program is designed to be a fun and educational experience for children. Before the flight, each child receives a briefing from their pilot, explaining the basic principles of flight and the controls of the airplane. The pilot answers any questions the children may have. Once the briefing is complete, the child will board the airplane and take to the skies.

The normal route is north to Carthage, then southwesterly to Pinehurst and then east to Southern Pines. Most flights last 15-20 minutes at an altitude of 2,500 feet.

The EAA’s Young Eagles program has been instrumental in inspiring the next generation of pilots and aviation enthusiasts. By offering free airplane rides to children, the program has made aviation accessible to young people who may not otherwise have had the opportunity to experience flight. The program has also played a role in addressing the shortage of pilots in the aviation industry by encouraging young people to pursue careers in aviation.

“My favorite part of each ride is when we fly over a kid’s home or school because they get so excited,” said Mike Jones, a veteran of more than 700 Young Eagles rides and former chairman of the Moore County Airport Authority. “The kids are amazed to see their homes, or even McDonald’s and Walmart. One young boy got off the plane and thanked me for the ride, saying it was the best day of his whole life.”

Feature photo: Victoria Smith, a Young Eagles Flier, in 2018/Sandhills Sentinel.


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